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FINDINGS 

Based on this writer's conducting of the study herein referenced; knowledge, training and experienced gained through being a snowmobiler for over 20 years; knowledge, training and experienced gained through being an accredited accident reconstruction expert in the field of scientific snowmobile accident reconstruction; knowledge, training and experience in conducting previous braking studies as well as overseeing braking studies while in the process of teaching snowmobile accident reconstruction courses to law enforcement personnel in many parts of the country; standard and commonly accepted laws of physics; standard and commonly accepted principles of scientific snowmobile accident reconstruction; the following conclusions and interpretations are drawn, and are so drawn to within a reasonable degree of scientific and professional certainty: 
 

1. That it is a regular and foreseeable part of snowmobiling in general that a snowmobile operator will from time to time encounter un-warned of and unforeseen circumstances involving ice. 

2. That a snowmobile without properly designed and installed traction studs and carbides basically has no ability to afford the operator any adequate magnitude of maintaining vehicle control on icy surfaces. 

3. That from time to time, and in the course of normal snowmobiling, operators will be confronted with rapidly changing surfaces and conditions which will result in the necessity to be able to turn on paved surfaces. Without good carbides, the skis of the snowmobile alone may not afford an adequate level of steering force in these conditions. 

4. That the use of properly designed and installed traction studs and carbides significantly enhances the ability of an operator to be able to control his snowmobile on icy or paved surfaces. This control is in the form of turning and stopping. It is certainly unsafe to ride a machine on an icy surface that does not have a reasonable balance of carbided skis and studded track, both properly designed and installed. 

5. That the usage of properly designed and installed traction studs and carbides significantly enhances the level of snowmobile safety relative to stopping and turning under the average and normal snowmobiling conditions afforded to both the snowmobile operator, his passenger, and any other traffic or pedestrians in an area effected by the operation of said snowmobile. 

6. That in this writer's opinion, the banning of properly designed and installed traction studs, under normal snowmobiling circumstances, would certainly create a question as to liability for crashes which occur that would most likely have been prevented by the enhancements afforded by these traction products in steering, stopping and general control. 

7. The best answers that can be given at this point to the questions generated at the beginning of this report are as follows:  

A. How effective are traction products? Basically, on icy surfaces, properly designed and installed traction products are extremely effective and are a significant enhancement to the overall level of snowmobile safety for all involved. 

B. Under what conditions are traction products most effective? On icy surfaces as well as paved surfaces that snowmobiles from time to time have to traverse. 

C. Does the use of traction products enhance safety? Certainly, and without question. As described above, snowmobiles are designed to be driven on the snow but in the real world, snowmobilers are frequently faced with conditions where they have to traverse icy surfaces. 

D. Should traction products be required? This question is best answered by knowing the conditions that the snowmobile will be operated in. For someone with a special application whereby they will most likely never run into icy or paved conditions, it would not be cost effective or fruitful to require this person to have traction products on the machine. It may be a good idea to investigate the feasibility of the tracks being predrilled for studs by the manufacturer so if a person does make the decision they want a studded track, they can do it relatively easily. 

E. Should traction products be banned? Certainly not. As an expert, and as the person who has conducted the above study, it is readily apparent that the banning of studded tracks and ski carbides significantly reduces the level of snowmobile safety and can certainly result in the occurrence of accidents which could otherwise be prevented. Any snowmobile operator should have the opportunity to decide on his own if he wants to use traction studs or carbides on his snowmobile. I further feel that people who purchase snowmobiles should be made aware, either through their dealer or the safety courses they take in their given jurisdictions, of the advantages, dynamics, and significant enhancements provided by properly designed and installed snowmobile traction products so they can make an informed decision as how to set their own machines up.

The following study was done at the request of S.E.S.R.A to get a real world and 
documented analysis of the effects of traction products on the overall issue of snowmobile safety.  S.E.S.R.A. had absolutely no influence on either the manner in which this study was conducted, or the opinions derived by this author through the study conducted.  
 
 
SCRAPED/HARD PACKED/ICY ROAD STUDDED V. NON-STUDDED TRACK
TEST MACHINES:  STOCK 1997 500 cc 
2 CYLINDER 
LIQUID COOLED 

STUD SET-UP:  144    .875" 
 

Even with the error factoring range, the effect of a studded track here is significant in terms stopping.
As expected, the testing showed that the main effectiveness in enhancement to overall snowmobile safety generated by properly designed and installed traction products occurs on icy surfaces. For this reason, an elevated focus was generated with regard to analyzing the relative mining and stopping ability of snowmobiles equipped with traction products on ice, as opposed to snowmobiles without traction' products installed. The ice testing was done on a small lake located in Whiteport, New York.
TESTING ON THIN ICE
Three similar type machines were used with the only track set up difference being one machine studs extending over the track lug 1/8", the next machine having traction studs track lug 1/4" and the third machine having traction studs extending over the track lug 3/8”.  The first tests were done with a fourth snowmobile that had no traction studs at all and the available friction was simply not enough to trip the accelerometer on the unit utilized. In essence, friction of .05 is utilized for a non studded snowmobile track sliding over ice. This obviously can vary somewhat due to temperature and actual condition of the ice.  The Three test machines were originally equipped with 192 picks and a series of skid tests were performed.  Picks were then removed in 16 pick increments down to a total of 96 picks. The following table shows the average deceleration factors that were generated under these conditions. 
 
LAKE ICE FRICTION TABLE
NUMBER OF PICKS EXTENSION OVER LUG AVERAGE
  1/8" 1/4" 3/8"  
192 .36 .45 .39 .4
176 .32 .43 .39 .38
160 .3 .44 .4 .38
144 .32 .42 .38 .37
128 .29 .4 .4 .36
112 .27 .4 .38 .35
96 .24 .32 .37 .31
COLLISION RESEARCH LTD.   P.O. BOX 281  TILLSON, NY 12486  (914) 658-9042
 
The range of these results show the lowest deceleration factor with 96 picks extending 1/8" over the track lug whereby a deceleration factor of .24 was generated. The highest deceleration with the 192 pick set up with the studs extending 1/4" over the lug. It is interesting to note that the 1/4" over lug values appear to be somewhat higher than the 3/8" over the lug values.  However, these results are for all practical purposes fairly consistent. It is the 3/8" over the lug picks began to exceed the available integrity of the ice as well as the fact that the longer picks have a little more leverage and allow for more rearward bending on the stud and track relative to the vertical. The effect of the floating also has to be considered. It is, however, interesting to note that under all circumstances, reducing the number of picks did reduce the effective deceleration factor. 
 
The following photographs illustrate some of the marks that were generated in the ice surface during this testing: 
 
ICE BRAKING DISTANCE STUDDED V. NON-STUDDED TRACK
TEST MACHINES:  STOCK 1997 500 cc 
2 CYLINDER 
LIQUID COOLED 

STUD SET-UP:  144    .875" 
 

Even with the error factoring range, the effect of a studded track here is significant in terms stopping.
 
STEERING & TURNING ABILITY
The steering and turning ability of the machines with and without the carbides were then tested. Basically, with no carbides or wear rods, the skis would just turn all the way to the side and the snowmobile would simply go straight creating the maximum slip angle based on the maximum available steering angle. In essence, the slip angle was equal to the maximum steering angle. The results of this are obvious, and a lot of time and effort was not spent on getting complete scientific documentation of this. However, we did feel it was important to take a sled with pretty well worn out wear rods and do some lateral tests with this machine as opposed to a machine that had good carbides. The first set of tests were done on a skid pad that we generated out on the lake which had a 30' radius as illustrated by the following photographs: 
 
 Using the sled with the wear rods in poor condition, we were able to sustain approximately 6 mph on this skid pad. Utilizing the sled with the carbides, we were able to sustain 16 mph. The following graphs illustrate the lateral G-forces attained in the lateral skid pad type testing.
COORDINATE 
X Axis: TIME = 15.010 SEC 
Y Axis: G = 0.333 G  * * * * * PRIMARY RUN * * * * * Vehicle: L17   Location: WHITEPORT, NY   Date: 1/20/97  Run: 8  Run Length: 30.00 Sec.  Weight : 745.0 Lbs  Cal Factor : 1.000 Smooth Factor : 0   Altitude: 0 Ft   Temp: 28 F  Drag: 0 Lbs  Wind: 0 Mph  FlatPlate: 0.0 Sqft 

Notes: Skid Circle/30Ft  Radius/Max Sustained Speed 6 Mph/Bad Wear Rods/96 Picks  .25 Over Lug/175Lb  Rider/Lake Ice

COORDINATE 
X Axis: TIME = 15.010 SEC 
Y Axis: G = 0.333 G  * * * * * PRIMARY RUN * * * * * Vehicle: L2   Location: WHITEPORT, NY   Date: 1/20/97 
Run: 1 Run Length: 30.00 Sec.  Weight : 745.0 Lbs  Cal Factor : 1.000 Smooth Factor : 0   Altitude: 0 Ft   Temp: 28 F  Drag: 0 Lbs  Wind: 0 mph  FlatPlate: 0.0 Sqft 

Notes: Lateral with Good Carbides on Lake. 
 

 
The next set of tests were conducted in a lateral serpentine method whereby we simply steered the machine to maximum with the decelerometer in continuous G mode. The following graphs illustrate the G-forces that we were able to generate with the carbided machine. The machine with no wear rods or carbides did not handle well enough to register appropriately in the serpentine motion. Hence, it is clear that any machine without a reasonable balance of properly designed and installed carbides and traction products is not safe. Furthermore, a machine not utilizing both carbides and studs, on an icy surface, creates a very hazardous situation.   
COORDINATE 
X Axis: G = -0.070 G 
Y Axis: TIME  = 30.000 Sec  * * * * * PRIMARY RUN * * * * * Vehicle: L13   Location: WHITEPORT, NY   Date: 1/20/97  Run: 6 Run Length: 30.29 Sec.  Weight : 745.0 Lbs  Cal Factor : 1.000 Smooth Factor : 0   Altitude: 0 Ft   Temp: 28 F  Drag: 0 Lbs  Wind: 0 Mph  FlatPlate: 0.0 Sqft 

Notes: Skid Circle/30Ft  Radius/Max Sustained Speed 6 Mph/Bad Wear Rods/96 Picks  .25 Over Lug/175Lb  Rider/Lake Ice

 

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