The laws, signed in late March, are geared toward safety and trail access.
The state, known for its “reasonable and prudent” approach to speed limits, will now enforce a 55 mph nighttime limit. The limit is in effect a half-hour after sunset to a half-hour before sunrise.
“During this past snowmobile season 69 percent of our fatal accidents occurred at night and 67 percent were speed related,” said Gary Eddy, Snowmobile Administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “It’s a proven fact that nighttime speeds over 50 mph greatly reduces your ability to react in time to avoid a collision with a fixed object. The speed limit will assist law enforcement with addressing unsafe night operation and is expected to reduce nighttime crashes, which all too often result in injury accidents or fatalities.”
He said that a partial-season nighttime speed limit a few years ago had a dramatic impact on snowmobile accidents and fatalities.
The other law defines how much noise a snowmobile can make and how to test sound. The noise limit, 88 decibels, took effect May 1, 2006. It applies to all snowmobiles manufactured after July 1, 1975.
“Excessive snowmobile exhaust noise greatly hampers the excellent work our snowmobile clubs do to secure permission for trails and routes on or along private property,” Eddy said. “Public complaints about muffler noise can and has led to the closure of trails for snowmobile use. Wardens are hopeful that enforcement of this decibel limit will effectively deter loud exhaust systems from being used on snowmobiles that are running on the trail system.”