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When it comes to motorcycle safety, more is more

 Jan. 5, 2017
Photo of a motorcyclist.

​Photo: In 2016, 43 motorcyclists died in crashes. You can help avoid being a statistic by wearing brightly colored protective gear and a DOT-approved helmet. Read on for more riding safety suggestions.​

The preliminary motorcycle safety numbers are in for 2016, and they show that 53 motorcyclists were killed last year. And although even one is too many, the new statistics are encouraging, considering the 61 motorcycle fatalities in 2015. That’s a 13 percent improvement. And ​1980 saw the record for most motorcycle fatalities at 121, making 2016 a 56 percent improvement over that year.

The Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center recommends such safety measures as brightly-colored protective gear and DOT-approved helmets. Thirty-one riders killed in 2016 were not wearing a helmet, compared to the 18 who were. So as a motorcyclist, you can improve your odds on the road by wearing a helmet. You can also focus on the road and keep your speed in check. You can maintain a three-second following distance, and always avoid drinking and riding.

Delving further into the numbers can help us understand the need for training. In 2016, 11 of the crashes happened while motorcyclists were negotiating a curve, and 17 involved motorcycles only, so operator error was likely involved in those crashes.

In the end, it’s important that riders be prepared for inattentive driving and always ride within their skill set – and if you ever want to expand that skill set, consider taking one of the many motorcycle training courses around the state, which are available for all levels from basic to expert. They take place from April through September, with some running into October. Consider taking a new one every couple of years to dust off your skills.

Lastly, you can spread the word to your motorist friends to help prevent motorcycle deaths by looking twice for motorcycles before entering a roadway or changing lanes. Ask them to give you and your fellow motorcyclists room, check their blind spots, pay attention and drive at safe speeds.

By working together and practicing motorcycle safety, we can make 2017 the safest year yet for motorcyclists in Minnesota.​​