Five motorcycle deaths highlight a deadly week on Minnesota roads, killing 12 people in the first six days of May.

Out of the 12 fatalities since May 1, four were speed related, three involved alcohol and two were unbelted motorists, according to preliminary figures from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety.

The study shows 122 people have died on Minnesota roads since Jan. 1, compared to 93 last year at this time. The last time Minnesota reached 122 fatalities by May 7 was in 2008 when 132 people died on Minnesota roads, a news release from the Minnesota Department of Transportation stated.

Of the 122 traffic fatalities:

  • Eight were motorcyclists compared with six reported this time last year;

  • 13 were pedestrians compared with 15 reported this time last year;

  • Two were bicyclists compared with two reported this time last year;

  • 50 were speed-related fatalities compared with 25 this time last year;

  • 35 were unbelted motorists killed in traffic crashes compared with 23 this time last year;

  • Two were distracted driving-related fatalities compared with five this time last year; and

  • 28 were alcohol-related fatalities compared with 37 this time last year.

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The 12 recent fatalities include:

  • A 35-year-old man, who was not wearing a helmet, driving 79 mph in a 55 mph zone. He ran off the road in McLeod County and drug use is suspected.

  • A 46-year-old man, who was not wearing a helmet, took a wide right turn onto a dirt shoulder in Hibbing, moved back onto the street and lost control. Alcohol use is suspected.

  • A 29-year-old man was going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone on a Cass County road. He ran off the road, hit an embankment and overturned multiple times. Alcohol and drugs are suspected.

  • A 23-year-old man ran off a St. Paul street, overturned and was ejected.

  • A 52-year-old motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet and was exceeding the speed limit on a Stearns County road. He ran off the road at a curve and hit mailboxes and a fence.

  • A 72-year-old semitrailer driver drifted off Highway 12 in Swift County and overturned.

  • A 23-year-old motorcyclist, traveling around 70 mph in a posted 45 speed zone in Red Wing hit a curb, causing the bike to break up and eject the rider.

  • A 28-year-old unbelted driver ran off a city street in Rock Creek and was found partially submerged in a river.

  • A 26-year old driver in a pickup collided head-on with a car driven by a 37-year-old female driver on Highway 59 in Murray County. Both drivers died.

  • A 23-year-old woman was killed when she collided with a pickup in Cass County.

  • A 31-year-old motorcyclist was killed when he lost control on a curve, was thrown from his vehicle and hit a sign while riding on Highway 3 in Inver Grove Heights.

“One bad choice on the road can lead to a lifetime of regret,” stated Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director, in a news release. “Nobody says goodbye to their loved ones at the beginning of the day, expecting it to be the last goodbye. By driving smart, we can help our friends, neighbors and loved ones get home safely. To help reduce the significant increase in traffic fatalities on our road, we ask everyone to drive smart by slowing down, paying attention, planning a sober ride and buckling up.”

Safe motorcycle riding tips

  • Wear full, brightly colored protective gear, including a Department of Transportation-approved helmet.

  • Take a training course. Training season is underway, and courses are available for basic to expert riders. Taking a training course every couple of years will polish skills to stay safe on the road.

  • Be prepared for inattentive drivers by staying focused on riding, keeping speed in check and maintaining a two-second following distance.

  • Know how to navigate a curve.

  • A majority of the motorcycle fatalities so far this season happened while riders attempted to negotiate curves. Tips to ride through curves safely include slowing down for the curve, looking through the curve, countersteering and gently rolling on through the curve.

For more resources, go to DriveSmartMN.org.