Motorcycle safety trends headed the right direction as season comes to a close

Nov. 6, 2023

Two riders sitting on motorcycles in front of an instructor in a parking lot during a training session.

With the first snowflakes of the fall and winter in the books, another motorcycle season has drawn to an official close here in Minnesota.

As you get ready to winterize your motorcycle, take some time to reflect on this year's season: Both the joy and freedom you experienced on the open road, and, just as importantly, any close calls and how you can avoid them next year.

Last year was the worst for motorcycle fatalities since 1985, with 82 deaths. Too many people left for a good time on a motorcycle ride and never made it home to their loved ones. We saw some improvements this year, but the experts at the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC) believe there is room for improvement.

“Throughout the season, we continually saw riders taking unnecessary risks," MMSC safety coordinator Jay Bock said. “Proper safety equipment means life or death in a crash. Always make sure you're fully protected."

The 65 motorcycle fatalities in 2023 represent a 20 percent decrease from last year. Unfortunately, the 2021 and 2022 numbers were much higher than previous years, so even with the decrease, we're on par with 2019 and 2020.

The issues contributing to the crashes and fatalities remain the same as in previous years throughout the motorcycle communities, according to MMSC. Seventeen of the 65 fatal crashes involved excessive speeds, as high as 70 miles over the posted speed limit. Other factors include impaired and distracted driving, lack of protective gear, unendorsed ridership, and limited experience or lack of training.

Forty-one of the 65 motorcyclists who died on Minnesota roads weren't wearing a helmet.

“Motorcyclists should invest in themselves to become better cyclists and always ride responsibly, staying within their comfort level and their motorcycles abilities," Bock said.

Bock has three important tips for riders:

  1. Take a training course.
  2. Wear all the protective gear.
  3. Never ride while impaired.

Fortunately, we are headed the right direction on the training front. Overall, 4,457 riders took training courses this year — that includes everything from the Basic Rider Course to the Expert Course. We had 157 people take our Advanced and Expert courses, putting a polish on skills developed after years on the road.

Even though your bike may already be hibernating in your garage for the winter, you're probably thinking about when you can take it out again next spring. Never fear: The new training schedules will be available early next year, and training typically starts in April. It's never too early to plan, and remember, there's no such thing as too much training.

Interested in sharing your love of motorcycles and teaching new riders by becoming a rider coach? Visit this link and contact the program administrator at 651-201-7069.​​​