ST. PAUL — Preliminary crash reports indicate at least eight people were killed on Minnesota roads from 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6 through 1 a.m. Monday, Sept. 9, making it the among the top three deadliest weekends of the year.
The Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety reports the deadly start to September follows the state’s safest August since 1944 — there were 30 deaths last month.
The weekend fatalities raised the state’s current death total to 250 up from 238 at this time last year. DPS projects around 415 deaths for the year; there were 395 deaths in 2012.
Sept. 6–9 was among the deadliest weekend periods of the year, joining: April 5–7 (10 deaths); May 31–June 2 (eight); and July 26–28 (seven).
The weekend fatalities include a 20-year-old male motorist hit by a suspected drunk driver in Minneapolis early Monday, Sept. 9. The fatal crashes occurred in the counties of Anoka, Carver, Hennepin, Otter Tail, Renville, St. Louis and Watonwan .
Officials are urging motorists to buckle up, pay attention, drive at safe speeds and drive sober.
Motorcyclist Deaths Continue to Rise
Three of the eight weekend deaths were motorcyclists. To-date in 2013, there have been 53 rider deaths, putting the state on pace for 68 deaths for 2013, up from 55 rider deaths in 2012. The highest number of motorcyclist deaths on record is 1980 when 121 were killed.
DPS officials say there’s no clear indicator for the increase in deaths, but common crash factors are playing a role including rider error and motorist failure to yield the right-of-way.
“It’s time motorcyclists and drivers step up and take action to reduce these tragedies,” says Bill Shaffer of the DPS Motorcycle Safety Center. “Unfortunately preventable mistakes are leading to the spiking death count.”
Key Findings in 2013 Motorcycle Fatal Crashes
Age: 64 percent of the motorcyclists killed were over the age of 45; 19 percent were under 30. Young riders (30 and under) represent a mere one percent of the total driving population, older riders (45 and up) are only seven percent of the total driving population — together these riders represent 20 percent of the total traffic deaths to-date.
Contributing Factors: There have been 50 fatal crashes resulting in the 53 rider deaths. More than half of the fatal crashes involved only the motorcycle; failure to negotiate a curve was cited 19 times. The remaining crashes involved another vehicle, of which failure to yield the right-of-way was cited nine times.
- Deer: Six of the fatal crashes involved a collision with a deer, matching 2007, the highest number of deer deaths on record. Fatalities resulting from a collision with a deer are an immerging trend within the last decade. During 2002-2012, 43 motorcyclists have been killed in a crash with a deer, four times more than between 1991-2000 (10 deaths). This year is on pace to be the deadliest with deer and we are just bridging the autumn deer season.
- Helmet Use: Helmet use is known in 42 of the 53 rider deaths, of those, 31 were not wearing a helmet; only 12 riders were wearing a helmet.
- Location: More than 60 percent of the crashes occurred in a rural area; 28 percent of the crashes occurred in the 7-county metro area. The top six deadliest counties include: Hennepin (6); Goodhue and St. Louis (4 each); Crow Wing, Dakota and Olmsted (3 each).
DPS offers these safety tips for motorists and riders to ensure a safe riding environment:
- Motorists — Watch for motorcycles, and always look twice before entering a roadway or changing lanes. Due to the smaller size of motorcycles, their speed and distance is more difficult to judge. Give riders room and check blind spots. Pay attention, drive at safe speeds and drive sober.
- Riders — Wear protective gear, including a DOT-approved helmet, riding gloves, boots, pants, jacket and eye protection. Pay attention to riding, ride at safe speeds and ride sober. DPS advises riders to take safety training courses to hone skills; more information at www.motorcyclesafety.org.
About the Minnesota Department 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
- Ridership is at record-high levels in Minnesota, with more than 237,000 registered motorcycles and 405,000 licensed operators.
- 2012 Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts reports 55 rider deaths, a 33 percent increase from 2011 and 14 percent of the total traffic deaths. The first time rider fatalities have gone up since 2008.
- MMSC attended the International Rider Education Training System Conference from Aug. 14 to Aug. 17.Motorcycle rider training courses run April through October and are available for new and experienced riders – register at motorcyclesafety.org: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/mmsc/Pages/default.aspx.MMSC added two new courses to their 2013 curriculum, the SMARTrainer Plus Course and the BRC Refresher Course.
- More than 7,400 students took a rider training course in 2012 with the MMSC. In the last five years, more than 30,000 students have been trained.
- MMSC provides several pieces of motorcycle safety and training collateral, available to order, at no cost. Order materials: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/mmsc/Pages/default.aspx.
- Commissioner Mona Dohman appointed 15 to the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Task Force (MATF) for the 2013-2015 term. To learn more about what MATF does, visit: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/mmsc/about/Pages/advisory-committee.aspx.
- Follow MMSC on Twitter: @MnDPS_MCSafety.