State officials are urging people to slow down and stay sober on their snowmobiles.
It's Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week -- when the state Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, reminds drivers to take a snowmobile safety course and use common sense on the trails.
Accidents often involve three common factors: speed, night and alcohol, said Capt. Mike Hammer, education program coordinator with the DNR.
"You combine all those three things," he said, "and you're setting yourself up to become an accident statistic."
So far this season, six people have died on snowmobiles -- including a 22-year-old Maple Grove man who crashed Saturday in north-central Minnesota. Poor visibility because of weather, alcohol use and speed were likely factors, officials said.
The number of deaths a season is closely tied to the start and amount of snowfall, Hammer said. This year's number is "probably average, unfortunately" for a snowy winter, he said.
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Traffic deaths surged last year as drivers racked up more miles behind the wheel than ever before, a result of an improved economy and lower gas prices, according to preliminary government data released Friday.
A 61-year-old Maple Grove man died in a collision in Mille Lacs County; a motorcyclist died in a crash involving three vehicles in Eden Prairie; and just a few minutes after midnight Sunday, a driver who had been drinking died when he crashed his pickup into some trees in northern Minnesota.