ST. PAUL – Minnesota surpassed 100 traffic fatalities for 2014 following a motorcycle crash that killed two people and a single vehicle rollover last weekend, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.
Howard Ogaard and his passenger, Beverly Palmer, were both killed in a single-vehicle motorcycle crash in Alexandria on Saturday and Leon P. Fiecke became the 101st fatality of the year when he rolled his SUV and was thrown from his vehicle south of Howard Lake Sunday evening.
In addition, a head-on fatal crash occurred this morning east of Hutchinson, killing one.
Of the 102 traffic deaths to date this year, three were motorcycle fatalities. Of the 89 motor vehicle occupant deaths, 31 were not belted. Nine traffic fatalities include incidents with snowmobiles, an ATV, a bicycle and pedestrians. Today’s crash is still being investigated.
Last year at this time, there were 99 traffic fatalities, eight of which were motorcycle riders.
The two motorcycle fatalities last weekend are the first since March 11, more than two months ago. Minnesota has never had two months during the riding season (April through October) without a rider fatality.
There were no motorcycle fatalities in April. The last time April was fatality-free was 1990.
Preliminary reports indicate 60 riders lost their lives in 2013, a nine percent increase from 2012 (2012 was the first year since 2008 rider fatalities went up). Rider deaths accounted for 16 percent of Minnesota traffic deaths last year.
“Despite having a safe start to the season this year, the tragedy of losing two riders over the weekend is a reminder that these are loved ones not returning home,” said Bill Shaffer of the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center. “To stay safe, we urge riders to take responsibility on their bikes by focusing on riding and taking a training course to sharpen and hone their skills. We also remind motorists to look twice for motorcyclists and urge them to share the road.”
Click It or Ticket
Even though most Minnesotans buckle up (nearly 95 percent), 587 people died and 9,739 were injured in the last five years on Minnesota roads as a result of not being belted. That’s why nearly 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies are adding extra patrols during the Click It or Ticket campaign May 19-June 1.
“The key to stopping these preventable deaths begins with every motorist buckling up,” says Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director. “A seat belt is your number-one defense against the spike of drunk, distracted and speeding drivers that we see in the summer.”
Minnesota’s seat belt law is a primary offense, meaning drivers and passengers in all seating positions must be buckled up or in the correct child restraint.
About the Minnesota Department 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 Office of Traffic Safety
OTS designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths
(TZD) traffic safety initiative.
Recent OTS Activity and Statistics
- Final reports on enhanced enforcement for distracted driving during April 11-20 reported 827 texting citations from 308 law enforcement agencies.
- In a continuing effort to advance traffic safety in Minnesota, DPS awarded new federal grants totaling more than $8.5 million for regional partners to support overtime traffic safety enforcement and educational efforts through September 2014.
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