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Otter Tail Power Company urges snowmobiling safety

Snowmobiling had its start as a recreational sport in northern Minnesota in 1955, according to the Minnesota Historical Society. In April 1968 Ralph Plaisted of St. Paul, Minnesota, further popularized snowmobiling when he and his expedition reached the North Pole on snowmobiles, being the first mechanized expedition to accomplish such a feat.

No doubt, snowmobiling is a popular activity in Otter Tail Power Company's service territory in west central Minnesota, eastern North Dakota, and northeastern South Dakota, especially this season with optimum snow conditions throughout this area.

Most snowmobilers do some riding in road ditches, especially now with warmer weather because the greater snow pack in ditches tends to last longer. A lot of right-of-way for electrical facilities borders road ditches, and Otter Tail Power Company's Safety Services Manager Ryan Smith urges special emphasis on safety. "Watch for electrical equipment such as substations, poles, guy wires, junction boxes, and padmount transformers that often are located near road ditches," says Smith. "Beware of excessive speed that could keep you from seeing these and other obstacles in time to avoid them. And with this year's snow depths, be mindful that some smaller equipment could be obscured just below the snow surface."

Smith reminds snowmobilers to ride responsibly. Wear a helmet, eye protection, and other safety gear. Take a snowmobile safety course. Use extra caution when riding at night, and don't go faster than what your lights can illuminate in front of you. Nine out of ten snowmobile fatalities occur after dark, according to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. And don't mix riding with alcohol or drugs. Out of the 212 snowmobile accidents in Minnesota during the 2009-2010 season, 81 percent involved alcohol use, and 8 percent were fatal.

"We remind everyone to exercise good judgment while snowmobiling," says Smith. "Just a few seconds of caution can make a big difference in maintaining safety and well-being."

Otter Tail Power Company, a subsidiary of Otter Tail Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select Market: OTTR), is headquartered in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It provides electricity and energy services to more than a quarter million people in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. To learn more about Otter Tail Power Company visit To learn more about Otter Tail Corporation visit