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Motorcycle deaths and how to avoid them

July 29, 2019

A motorcyclist on a curvy road

Summer in Minnesota is the perfect time to ride your motorcycle. Unfortunately, it is also the time when the highest number of motorcycle fatalities happen. In a nutshell, the more you ride, the more chances you have to crash – but there are things you can do about it, and many are hinted at in the statistics of fatal motorcycle crashes.

But first, some overall numbers. So far in 2019, 23 motorcyclists have been killed in 22 crashes. And although that’s much better than this time last year (32 fatalities by July 29, 2018), we can all agree that even one death is too many. How to prevent them?

Consider the statistic about helmet use. Of this year’s 23 motorcyclists killed, 17 weren’t wearing a helmet. Helmets and other protective gear are very important for motorcyclists. They should be brightly colored (they’re important for visibility as well as protection), and the helmet should be DOT-approved.

You might wonder whether the motorcyclists killed so far this year were licensed. The fact is that 17 of them did have a valid motorcycle license endorsement or permit, so simply being licensed to operate a motorcycle does not necessarily protect you from a crash.

What can help you avoid crashes, however, is lots of training. Public safety officials recommend taking a training course every couple of years to dust off and improve your riding skills. Training courses are available from April through September for beginning through expert riders. Whatever your level, always ride within your skill set, use good judgment and keep a two-second following distance.

Ten of this year’s fatal crashes involved a motorcycle and another vehicle. Never, ever assume other motorists can see you. In fact, it’s safest to assume they can’t. To prepare for inattentive drivers, stay focused on riding, obey the speed limit, and don’t impair your judgment by consuming alcohol or drugs before you ride.

Riding your motorcycle can be such a joy, but as we’ve learned from crash statistics, it comes with its share of risks. It’s not possible to prevent every crash, but if you can learn from the statistics, you can ride as safely as possible.