August deadliest month for motorcycle riders
With 11 rider deaths, August was the deadliest month for motorcyclists in the Minnesota.
The number of preliminary Minnesota motorcyclist fatalities hit 40, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Motorcycle Safety Center reported. This time last year, there were 29 rider deaths.
May and July follow August for the deadliest rider months — each had seven rider fatalities.
Motorcyclist fatalities are 17 percent of the total 238 traffic fatalities this year. Of the state’s 368 traffic fatalities in 2011, 42 were motorcycle riders, which accounted for 11 percent of Minnesota’s total traffic deaths.
Bill Shaffer, Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center program coordinator, noted the autumn riding season can be just as deadly and encouraged motorists to look twice for motorcycles in traffic.
“Riders must shoulder responsibility for protecting themselves,” Shaffer said in a news release. “Ride sober, keep your speed in check and make yourself visible to drivers.”
Shaffer also stressed the need for riders to get training.
The cost of fuel is one of the reasons more people are choosing to ride motorcycles, the state reported. Ridership is at record-high levels in Minnesota, with nearly 230,000 registered motorcycles and more than 404,000 licensed operators. Hennepin County has the most licensed riders with 63,077. For outstate Minnesota, St. Louis County had the most with 15,836 motorcycle licenses.
For better road safety, the state suggests:
• Motorists watch for motorcycles, and always look twice before entering a roadway or changing lanes.
• Riders are advised to wear protective gear, pay attention and ride sober. More information can be found at www.motorcyclesafety.org.
• Travel at safe speeds and stay focused on driving. Speeding and inattention are the two most-cited contributing factors in motorcycle crashes.
The MMSC was created from a state statute to address record high motorcyclist fatalities in the early 1980s. The law also created a state dedicated Motorcycle Safety Fund, which comes directly from Minnesota motorcyclists through a portion of motorcycle endorsement fees.