ST. PAUL — The 2015 motorcycle riding season is off to a deadly start. Most recently, four motorcyclists died in four days, bringing the total number of motorcycle fatalities so far this year to 11. This is the highest number of rider deaths at this point in the riding season since 1994, the earliest date such records are available.
The most recent deaths happened Saturday, May 2, through Tuesday, May 5, in four separate crashes. One of the four deaths was a passenger. Three were wearing helmets. Only one of the crashes involved another vehicle.
“With an early spring, we have had more riders on the road,” State Patrol Lt. Tiffani Nielson said. “Riders and motorists should be alert and take steps to preventing crashes.”
Preliminary reports point to rider error, such as speeding and losing control, playing a factor in several of the crashes this year. The Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC) encourages riders to brush up on their skills early in the riding season by taking a training course. There are courses for novice and experienced riders.
So far this year, there have been 106 traffic fatalities in Minnesota; 10 percent are motorcyclists.
2015 Fatal Motorcycle Crash Facts
Helmet Use: Four out of the 11 riders killed were wearing helmets. MMSC asks motorcyclists to wear DOT-approved helmets and brightly-colored protective riding gear for visibility and protection.
Age: Seven of the motorcyclists killed were over the age of 45; two were in their late 30’s and two were in their early 20’s.
Passengers: Two of the motorcyclists killed were passengers. There were five motorcycle passengers killed in crashes in 2014, according to preliminary reports.
Contributing Factors: Preliminary reports show speed is cited as a contributing factor in four of the crashes. Inattention and losing control trying to avoid slowed vehicles is cited in one of the crashes. The other crashes do not have contributing factors cited.
About the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center
The Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC) provides high-quality rider education, training and licensing to prevent motorcycle crashes and the resulting fatalities and injuries. It was created in the early 1980s to address record high motorcyclist fatalities.
The MMSC provides on-cycle and classroom rider training courses, develops awareness campaigns and informational materials, and coordinates third-party skills testing for motorcycle license endorsement through the Basic Rider Course and evening testing at select DVS Exam Stations.
Motorcycle safety is a component of Toward Zero Deaths (TZD), the state’s primary road safety initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.
Recent MMSC Activity and Statistics
- There are more than 236,000 registered motorcycles and more than 414,000 licensed operators in Minnesota.
- During the 2014 training season, MMSC trained more than 6,000 students statewide.
- New 2015 courses include 3-Wheel Basic Rider Course and Motorcycle Road Guard Certificate. A complete list of courses and descriptions is available online at motorcyclesafety.org.
- Follow MMSC on Twitter @MnDPS_MCSafety and “like” MMSC on Facebook.