Living in the Utica-Rome area in winter has many advantages, especially if you're a snowmobiler. In fact, snowmobilers come from all over the country to enjoy the miles and miles of snowmobile trails we have here in central and northern New York.

Joe Raedle, Getty Images News

All too often, we learn about tragic snowmobile accidents and injuries, and to help make it a safer season, we'd like to share some snowmobile safety tips from Westbend/The Silver Lining:

" Be a defensive driver. Your helmet and engine noise can impair your hearing. Visibility is also reduced in conditions of snowfall, blowing snow and night driving.

Watch out for:

Thin ice and open water

Grooming equipment

Oncoming snowmobiles

Unforeseen obstacles beneath snow

Unexpected corners, intersections and stops

Road and railway crossings

Logging/Forestry operations

Snow banks and drifting snow

Trees and branches on the trail

Bridges and approaches

Wildlife and domestic animals

Other trail users (skiers, hikers)

Don't Drink and Ride. Snowmobiling requires alertness, caution, and attention.

Always wear outer clothing with reflective trim on the arms, back and helmet. Never ride alone at night.

Ice Riding

Drowning is one of the leading causes of snowmobile fatalities. Wherever possible, avoid riding on frozen lakes and rivers because ice conditions are never guaranteed. Ice conditions can change in a period of several hours. If you must cross ice, stay on the packed or marked trail.

Snow blindness occurs when direct and reflecting sun glare is too bright for the eyes. Riding without good quality, UV-protected sunglasses, goggles, or visor can cause permanent damage.

You can easily snowmobile beyond immediate help so basic repair kits are essential.

A cellular phone can be a terrific asset if trouble arises, but bear in mind that cell phones have limited service range."

Click here for a list of New York State Snowmobile Clubs, who can provide you with more information.

Check with the New York State Office Of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for a list of area snowmobile safety courses, locations and dates.

Get more information on a New York State Snowmobile Online Safety Course here.