A Car Pulling a Snowboard, Skis, or Sled: Why It Is Not Safe

It's that time of year when we have snow-covered roads, fields, and streets. All snow enthusiasts are out in the winter wonderland having fun in various kinds of snow activities. One activity has been given the colloquial term "skitching." On snow, skitching occurs when a person is pulled by a motorized vehicle while on skis, a snowboard, or a sled. However, read this before you go out in the snow and try this for yourself.

Key takeaways:
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    Snow skitching occurs when a skier, snowboarder, or sledder is being pulled on a motor vehicle.
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    Skitching is very different than being pulled from a ski boat.
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    Skitching is illegal on all public roads and property.
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    Various injuries can result from skitching, including head injuries, fractures, cuts, and others.

With skitching comes the risk of different types of injuries; however, there are some precautions you can take.

As a side note, skitching can also involve the pulled person riding a skateboard, roller skates, or anything with wheels; however, this article will discuss skitching on snow only.

Skitching is illegal on public land; thus, there are no scientific research articles on the topic. When we hear or read about snow skitching, it is usually in a news source after some accident.

You may have heard of skijoring, a sport in which a person on a pair of cross-country skis is being pulled by an animal or motor vehicle. Thus, there is some overlap with skitching if the person is on cross-country skis and being pulled by a motor vehicle. Most of the time, skijoring involves using 1-3 dogs to pull the cross-country skier. Some people use horses, but it's not recommended.

What makes skitching different than waterskiing?

Why is it okay to pull a water skier or wakeboarder on a lake or river during warm weather? What’s the difference between that and pulling someone on snow-covered streets?

There are several answers concerning the hazards when skitching that are not present when power boating on a body of water.

Streets are narrow

Imagine you're driving on an average road, with twos lane going in either direction. While skitching on a road, even an experienced skier could easily go into the other lane and crash with an oncoming motorized vehicle. Second, you could still go right into oncoming traffic even if you have two lanes in each direction and a middle change lane. Lastly, if you are going slowly, an unwise motor vehicle driver could try to drive past you and cause a collision.

When skiing behind a boat, you don’t have another boat coming the other way or one trying to pass you close by, like a car on the street.

On a one-way street, you're not supposed to have a vehicle coming the other way toward you, but we've heard about it occurring. In addition, someone may try to pass going the same way, as mentioned above.

There are hazards on the sides of the street

Even though phone booths largely no longer exist, there are light poles, street signs, electric poles (in some cities), mailboxes, and pedestrian signal devices. In addition, cars or other vehicles can be parked along the street, in one-way and two-way streets.

Compared to streets, on lakes, besides the occasional buoy or rock, there's nothing on the sides that you can run into when water skiing. Power boat drivers should know to avoid other boats while towing a skier or wakeboarder.

It’s easier to watch someone being towed by a boat

When towing a water skier, wakeboarder, or tube rider, a designated spotter is always watching with a red warning flag to hold up and alert the other lake enthusiasts. In some places, the spotter is required by law, but some ski boats allow the driver to watch the person they are towing.

Cars and SUVs are not made with that purpose in mind. Note that a jet ski can pull a water skier (or wakeboarder) as long as it is a three-person jet ski with a space for someone to watch and an available seat for the skier.

Watching someone pulled on a rope by a car, truck, or another motor vehicle can be challenging. Sometimes, people place the tailgate down in the back so someone can sit while watching the skitcher. However, that creates an additional hazard for the person watching.

What injuries result from skitching, and what precautions can you take?

A head injury, like a concussion, is the most serious injury; therefore, we recommend using a helmet.

Fractures (breaks) in the bones can occur anywhere, including the skull, extremities, ribs, etc. Wearing wrist guards and protective clothing (similar to motorcycle attire) could possibly help.

If there are any breaks in the skin, an infection could result. It’s a good idea to keep a first aid kit in the motorized vehicle for this and other issues.

Frostbite can occur from the cold and wind. Therefore, we recommend you dress warmly and avoid skitching when the weather is near 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Injuries can result from hazards along the course, so ensure the area is clear of any hazards, including trees, branches, bushes, ice, bodies of water, poles, signs, etc.


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