ST. PAUL — Summer-like weather is driving motorcyclists onto Minnesota roads early this year, and bringing warnings to riders and vehicle operators to safely share the road. Underscoring the deadly potential was the first death of a motorcyclist in Minnesota this year on Tuesday, a 28-year-old man in Lake Elmo who died after his motorcycle left the road and struck a tree.
As record-high warm weather will continue at least into next week across the state — and as rising fuel costs make motorcycles more popular and affordable — traffic safety officials offer specific life-saving advice:
· Motorists are advised to watch carefully for motorcycles in traffic, and always look twice before turning or changing lanes.
· Riders are advised to wear protective gear, travel at safe speeds, pay attention and ride sober. DPS advises that riders seek safety training at www.motorcyclesafety.org, and wear high-visibility riding gear.
“Most motorcycle crash fatalities result from rider error,” says Bill Shaffer of the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC). “Many crashes can be avoided with crash-avoidance skills developed through training.”
With the number of motorcycles and motorcyclists at record-high levels in Minnesota — almost 230,000 registered motorcycles and more than 404,000 licensed operators — rider training helps new riders earn a license, and sharpens skills for returning and experienced riders. Course registration is available at motorcyclesafety.org for training at 31 MnSCU locations from April through October. In the last five years, nearly 43,000 riders have taken a MMSC rider training course.
Preliminary reports indicate 41 rider deaths in 2011. Rider deaths account for 10 percent of Minnesota total traffic deaths annually.