You Can Drive 55 (and No Faster)

By: Justin Ware Email
By: Justin Ware Email

There's a lot of talk in area snowmobile circles this winter, about a new law restricting lead foots, or in this case, lead thumbs, on area trails.

"I think it's alright," said Greg Krantz, snowmobile club member. "Don't over drive your headlights and you'll be alright, you'll make it."

Some Dane county riders say the new 55 mile-per-hour nighttime speed limit is pointing in the wrong direction.

"I disagree with it personally," said Dan Fargen, Middleton rider. "I think it should be zero tolerance for alcohol and your own discretion on the speed myself."

But others say 55 is just fine for trails after the sun goes down.

"If you took the whole average all day we probably only did about 35-40 mph all day," said Dale Kelter. "So 55 is adequate enough."

According to the Dane county sheriff's department, between December 2005 and March 2006, 36 people were killed in snowmobile crashes in Wisconsin.

Because of those numbers, Dane county is capping speeds a half hour after sunset and before sunrise ... and sergeant Dave Ritter says most snowmobilers are listening.

"The highest speed we had was 59," said Ritter, "so I think the DNR did a good job of getting the word out that this was being enforced."

Ritter says it's not just speeders they're after.

Just like operating a car, .08 is the cut off for anyone on the trails.

And Ritter says drunk snowmobiling is one of the many problems the new speed law will help them crack down on, now that it's in place.

"We're really pushing for safe operation," said Ritter. "We're looking for speed violations, operating while intoxicated, any careless, imprudent speed type things."


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