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Speed, alcohol involved in three-fourths of snowmobile crashes

Wisconsin snowmobile deaths are down from a year ago, despite the heavy snows in the early part of the winter.

Twenty-three people were killed this season, down from 25.

The Department of Natural Resources said speed was a factor in three-fourths of all crashes.

And Gary Eddy, the agency's snowmobile coordinator, says he'd like the night-time speed limit of 55 mph made permanent.

It's in the second year of a three-year temporary period and there's been no talk in the Legislature about extending it.

Mike Cerny, who heads the Wisconsin Snowmobile Recreation Council, says there's widespread support among enthusiasts about making the limit permanent.

But he says there's a lot less support for the idea of tying drunken snowmobiling convictions to a person's regular driver's license.

Minnesota and Michigan do it, but Wisconsin doesn't. And those states have fewer deaths for each registered snowmobile.

Fifteen of Wisconsin's 23 deaths this winter involved alcohol. And toxicology tests are pending on two other victims.