Important rules and safety tips for drivers of snowmobiles!
Who may drive a snowmobile?
In order to drive a snowmobile in Sweden, it is required that you be 16 years old and have a driving licence for off-road vehicles. Snowmobiles may also be driven by those who have a Swedish driving licence or tractor licence issued before Jan. 1, 2000. Those who have had their driving or tractor licence recalled after Jan. 1, 2000 must have a driving licence in order to drive a snowmobile. You can also drive without a driving licence if you are part of a group within the tourist industry with no more than 10 people who have driving licences or tractor licences and that is led by a person with a driving licence for off-road vehicles along a route that has been determined by the leaders before the trip.
As a foreign driver (within EES*), you have the right to drive a snowmobile in Sweden if you have that right in your homeland. If you can not demonstrate this or if you come from a country outside EES, your only option is to be included in a group within the tourist industry or to possess a Swedish driving licence. *EES-countries are member countries of the European Union as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Where may you drive a snowmobile?
Driving a snowmobile in snow-covered terrain is essentially allowed, but there are certain restrictions:
- It is forbidden to drive in woodlands or on agricultural land if it is not apparent that this can be done without risk of damaging the woods or the land. It is generally forbidden to drive in forest plantings or in young forests with a height of less than two metres over the snow cover. You are personally responsible for ascertaining that there is no risk of damage.
- In the mountains there are a number of so-called ”regulated areas”. In some of these areas there are public snowmobile trails. There driving can take place only on the trails. In other regulated areas a total prohibition of snowmobile applies to the public. See the map of regulated areas.
- The county administrative board or municipality can issue bans on driving snowmobiles in other areas in view of outdoor life, reindeer husbandry, animal life, conservation or other factors.
- In national parks and nature reserves special regulations apply. In certain parks and reserves it is forbidden to operate motor vehicles. In the regulations for the protected area you can see if it is forbidden.
- Public snowmobiling is forbidden in a ski facility’s slopes or adjacent to them. The area is to be regarded as a ski area, and when the facility is closed, it is to be regarded as a work area where no one else is allowed to be present. Only the ski facility’s snowmobiles are allowed in the ski area.
NOTE! Find out if there are areas with regulations for snowmobile traffic when you consider snowmobiling. Talk with the tourist office or the snowmobile tourist company.
Driving on public and private roads
It is not permissible to drive on a public road unless you are crossing the road or driving the shortest possible distance because the terrain is impassable. When you must drive your snowmobile on the road, the highest speed permitted is 20 km/hr.
When you pass a road, all passengers (in a sled or on the snowmobile) must walk across the road.
On private roads snowmobiling can be forbidden. The road’s owner determines if motor vehicle traffic is allowed. Prohibition should be posted with signs or ”in another clear manner” (such as a barrier across the road or a homemade sign).
How fast may you drive?
The highest permitted speed for a snowmobile is 70 km/hr. In certain places there are lower local speed limits.
Safety tips for a pleasant snowmobile trip
- Do not ride alone!
- Keep track of the weather!
- Leave a travel plan!
- Drive sober! The same limit applies as for cars (0.2 per thousand).
- Avoid places where there is danger of avalanches (for example, under steep slopes, overhanging drifts and lee sides)! Avoid places that pose a risk of weak ice on lakes and waterways (for example, headlands, inlets and outlets)! Be aware that you always drive over ice at your own risk and that the snowmobile trail does not go over ice. There may be a pathway marked on the ice, but that is no guarantee the ice will hold.
- Keep track of where you are with map and compass (and possibly GPS).
- Bring along a helmet and warm clothing – think about wind chill!
- Bring along personal safety equipment for you and your snowmobile (extra variator belt, tools, reserve fuel, spade, avalanche probe, transmitter (transceiver), wind sack, etc.)
- Bring along a telephone or other communication equipment (but don’t count on having coverage everywhere).
- If you are going out on lakes or the sea, always be sure to bring along ice prods and preferably a flotation suit – and never drive over ice with a passenger under a closed sled shell!
Reindeer and snowmobile traffic
When you drive a snowmobile, you may come close to reindeer. They roam freely in herds or smaller groups. The reindeer are not wild but have owners. It is very easy to scatter a reindeer herd with a snowmobile, but it is a difficult and time-consuming task to round up the herd again. Respect the Sami’s work and the reindeer’s health! Here are some tips and facts about reindeer that are important for you, as a snowmobile driver, to know:
Reindeer need to be protected by temporary snowmobile prohibitions for several reasons:
- So that reindeer cows (vajor) have calm grazing conditions before and after calving, which occurs at the end of April/end of May.
- So that the reindeer will not be scattered in connection with the spring movement up to the mountains.
- Because the reindeer (due to poor winter grazing conditions, for example) can be in poor condition.
- So that the reindeer can graze in peace in winter grazing land in wooded areas.
Do as follows when you approach a reindeer herd:
- Slow down or stop. Usually the reindeer then move off the snowmobile track, especially if there are reindeer tracks on the side. Drive by quietly.
- If they do not move off the track, it can be because they feel stressed or they are not able to find any suitable place to go. Stop, turn off the motor and wait awhile.
- If the reindeer do not move off the track. Drive slowly behind them or turn around. If you come to an opening in the woods, a bog or something similar. Stop the snowmobiles. One of the snowmobiles drives slowly on a detour around the reindeer and takes a position on the trail a bit further ahead, which usually causes the reindeer to move off the track. Wait until all of the reindeer have left the track; they follow one another.
- If there are black plastic bags set up by the snowmobile track, it means that there are reindeer in the area. Drive especially quietly there!
Stay on snowmobile trails!
On snowmobile trails you drive with the greatest safety and least disruption. Like other mountain trails, snowmobile trails in the mountains are marked with trail crossings. They are also marked with signposts or symbols that show what rules apply on the trail. Certain trails can also be in common with ski trails. Drive slowly and maintain adequate leeway when you pass skiers. You always are obligated to yield to skiers and people who are walking, even on snowmobile trails. Public snowmobile trails are noted on the mountain map.
Designated snowmobile trail is indicated by the designated symbol. Blue, round sign with white snowmobile image. It means that you must stay on the trail. It is forbidden to drive outside the trail.
Suitable snowmobile trail is indicated with an advisory sign; a square sign with a blue snowmobile symbol on white background or conversely with a white snowmobile symbol on blue background. The sign indicates that you will drive with the greatest safety and least disruption on the trail. You should stay on the trail, but it is not forbidden to drive outside the trail.
On some trails it is forbidden to drive snowmobiles. The trails are then marked with a forbidden sign.
Other trails can be posted with an advisory sign with a red diagonal line. You should not use such trails. It is not forbidden to drive on such trails; it is true, but unsuitable.
Snowmobiles are always required to stop when passing over a road.
Red Xs on posts signify winter routes. Here you share the route with skiers, people on foot and dog teams. Always check to see if snowmobile driving is permitted on the route. In that case there should be a supplementary sign.