VILAS COUNTY (WAOW) -
The county that once led the state in snowmobile fatalities hasn't had any this season. Authorities in Vilas County say some recent changes are making the self-proclaimed snowmobile capital of the world safer.
Since 2008, Vilas County has doubled down to keep riders safe.
"We developed the Vilas County Snowmobile Trail Safety Committee," said Dale Mayo, Vilas County Parks & Recreation Department administrator. "The purpose of this committee was work with our alliance, our 11 local clubs, and to promote safe snowmobiling, safer trails, and positive public relations regarding our snowmobile trails up here."
That safety committee created radio public safety announcements, added more trail signs, and worked to improve coordination between emergency crews, outdoor officials, and clubs.
Snowmobilers say they've noticed the changes.
"Every year it seems like the trail signage gets better," said Marty McClain, who has been coming to ride in Vilas County from Dubuque, Iowa for 25 years.
"Each intersection has a little brown sign with white letting on it. So in case of an emergency, if you pass an intersection you memorize the number so when you're a mile down the trail you know you're at intersection," said Chris Brown of Elderon.
Vilas County Sheriff's officers say that helps speed up response time in case of an emergency.
Plus, officers have increased snowmobile patrols since last year. They say all this is helping Vilas County go from leading the state in snowmobile deaths to zero this season.
"We're very proud of the fact. We're talking about saving peoples lives here," said Mayo.
Snowmobilers have until March 31 to enjoy the Vilas County trails. After that, they will close for the season.