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Avoid becoming #30 with these motorcycle safety reminders

July 20, 2017

Photo of a motorcyclist.
Photo: Wearing protective gear like this, including a DOT-approved helmet, is just one of the ways to avoid becoming a statistic while riding your motorcycle. Motorcycle crashes have taken the lives of 29 people so far this year.​

Summer is the perfect time for riding your motorcycle: You can enjoy the sunshine and leave the humidity behind. But the more you ride, the higher your chance of crashing and even dying — as 29 people have done so far this year. Fortunately, there are things to learn from the stats that can reduce your chances of crashing or protect you if you do.

Of the 29 riders who have died in 2017, a staggering 21 of them were not wearing a helmet. In a crash, protective gear is all that separates you from the ground – and the ground is harsh and unyielding. Protective gear can have the added benefit of being brightly colored, making you more visible to other motorists, and completing the ensemble with a DOT-approved helmet will protect that wonderful brain of yours (not to mention that attractive face).

Three of this year’s 27 motorcycle crashes resulted from colliding with a deer. Deer are wild animals and, as such, impossible to predict. That’s why you should constantly scan the road ahead as you ride. If a deer does jump in front of you, use emergency braking (applying both front and rear brakes) to slow down and stop as quickly as possible. If you can’t stop in time but there’s room to do so, try to drive slowly behind the deer.

Here’s a statistic that may make you think twice about training: 25 of the 29 motorcyclists who died had a valid motorcycle endorsement or permit. Yes, you have to take a Basic Rider Course or pass the motorcycle road test to get your endorsement – but that doesn’t cover everything you’ll encounter on the road. The Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center offers intermediate, advanced, and even expert courses. So even if you take a course every year or two – which is recommended – you won’t be bored. Rather, it’ll keep your skills polished and give you a chance to practice vital crash-avoidance maneuvers.

So the next time you get ready to take that bike out for a spin, remember the 29 people who have died this year. Then, remember that there are specific steps you can take to avoid becoming number 30.