Michigan’s snowmobile season has wrapped up with an improved safety record for the fourth straight year.
Twenty people died from snowmobile-related accidents in the 2006-07 season, according to a report from the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents. That is down from 24 the year before.
The 2006-07 winter had the fewest deaths since 1994, when 19 fatalities were recorded in Michigan, according to the insurance agents group.
The deadliest season was 2002-03, when 46 people died from snowmobile accidents.
The insurance association’s report is based on data from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
A relatively mild winter may have contributed to the recent season’s safety record.
“There is a direct relationship between snowmobile activity and the amount of snow on the ground,” Gary Mitchell, a spokesman for the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents, said in a statement.
Alcohol use and snowmobiling at night continued to be problems, the insurance agent group said.
Drinking was a factor in 62 percent of the fatal accidents. About 70 percent of the accidents happened during evening hours.
There are about 392,000 registered snowmobiles in Michigan, widely regarded as one of the nation’s top snowmobiling states with more than 6,000 miles of designated trails.