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What we can learn from motorcycle fatalities

Dec. 10, 2018

Even one death – no matter what caused it – is one too many. And it’s important to remember, when looking at statistics about death, that the numbers represent people: parents, friends, cousins, colleagues. But we can also learn from these statistics in the hope of not repeating history.

A motorcyclist riding toward a sunsetThat’s why looking at the annual statistics for motorcycle deaths in Minnesota is so important. The preliminary numbers show that 58 motorcyclists have died in 56 crashes so far in 2018. That’s not the highest in our history – that was in 1980, when 121 motorcyclists died – but it’s not the lowest, either. We can do better, and a look at the numbers can help us learn how.

First up: helmet use. In nearly 75 percent of this year’s motorcycle fatalities, the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet. It’s a good reminder that helmets – preferably DOT-approved, high-visibility ones – are the very best way to protect yourself in case of a crash. It can even help prevent crashes by making you more visible to other drivers.

This year tied the record (set in 2008) for most fatal motorcycle crashes involving animals. Eight riders died in crashes with deer or other animals this year. There are definite skills involved in avoiding a crash with an animal – these tips can get you started.

And here’s another point that may surprise you: The majority – 57 percent, to be exact – of 2018’s fatal crashes involved only the motorcycle. Yes, other drivers can be dangerous, but the better riding skills you have, the better able you’ll be to protect yourself from them and the hazards on the road that can cause a single-vehicle crash, such as road debris, animals, and negotiating curves.

A great way to get those riding skills – or polish up the ones you already have – is to take a motorcycle training course. Believe it or not, training schedules will be available and open for registration in early 2019. That, by the way, is just next month. The year went fast, didn’t it? But that’s okay, because before you know it, it’ll be spring, and you’ll be back on your bike again – hopefully safer than ever before!