April 06. 2006 6:59AM
State's snowmobile deaths down
Safety record improved for 3rd straight year.
TIM MARTIN, Associated Press Writer
LANSING -- Michigan's latest snowmobile season is ending with an improved safety record for the third consecutive year.Twenty-three people died from snowmobile-related accidents in the 2005-06 season, according to a report from the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents. That is down from 26 deaths the year before and 29 deaths in the 2003-04 season.The 2005-06 winter was the safest on record since 1989, when 10 fatalities were recorded in Michigan, according to the insurance agents group. The deadliest season was 2002-03, when 46 people died from snowmobile accidents.
The association's report is based on data from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.A relatively mild winter may have held down snowmobile traffic in some parts of the state, including the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. But some other parts of the state reported estimated snowmobile traffic equal to or surpassing last year's levels. "We were just in that lucky little streak where we got some snow," said Michael Jacobs, a trail groomer for the Houghton Lake Snowmobile Association.Alcohol and riding snowmobiles at night continued to be a deadly combination this season, according to the insurance agents group.Nearly three-fourths of the snowmobile deaths involved alcohol, the report said. Nearly three-fourths of the fatal accidents happened in the evening hours.
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