Alcohol fuels snowmobile death toll

Snowmobile accidents claimed eighteen lives in Sweden in 2008, with an estimated two thirds of the deaths caused by excessive alcohol intake, according to the Swedish Snowmobile Owners Federation (Snofed).

Alcohol fuels snowmobile death toll

Over the last five years, an average of ten to twelve people have died in snowmobile accidents. But 2008 was particularly “dark year”, Karl-Erik Björkén from Snofed told news agency TT.

A majority of the victims were not inexperienced drivers but middle-aged men who had too much to drink, he added.

“A lot of the accidents resulting in death are caused partly by a lack of respect for rules and regulations and partly by the fact that there is alcohol involved,” said Björkén.

Last year, the National Council on Snowmobiles launched an initiative to promote the use of alcohol locks on snowmobiles, but the project was hindered by an unforeseen complication.

“They [alcohol locks] draw a lot of energy from the snowmobile’s battery. When the temperature has dropped below -15 degrees it has been impossible to get snowmobiles to start,” said Björkén.

But even if Sweden were to decide that alcohol locks on snowmobiles should be mandatory, the political process “could take many years,” according to Björkén.

“Since Sweden can’t legislate on this alone, a decision will not be made until it is taken up at EU level.”