ST. PAUL — The first fatal motorcycle crash of 2016 happened March 7 in Fridley, making this the second earliest motorcycle fatality ever in Minnesota. The rider and passenger were both killed when the motorcycle went through a red light and hit a minivan, according to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.
As motorcyclists take advantage of the early spring weather, public safety officials are urging riders to be aware of spring hazards and drivers to safely share the road.
Last year, the first motorcycle fatality of the season happened March 15. In 2014, the first rider was killed on Minnesota roads on March 11. The earliest motorcycle death happened Feb. 23, 2002. According to preliminary reports, there were 61 motorcycle fatalities in 2015, up from 44 fatalities in 2014.
“It’s the time of year when motorcyclists and motorists need to be extra cautious out on the roads,” said Bill Shaffer of the Department of Public Safety Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (DPS-MMSC). “Riders haven’t been out on the road for a few months, so it’s a good idea for them to take some time to brush up on their skills. Motorists also need to remember to look twice for motorcycles.”
As the warm weather continues, DPS-MMSC offers these reminders:
- Motorists are advised to watch carefully for motorcycles in traffic and always look twice before turning or changing lanes.
- Riders are advised to wear full, brightly-colored protective gear, including a DOT-approved helmet.
- Riders should travel at safe speeds, pay attention, maintain a minimum two-second following distance and ride sober.
- Riders are encouraged to take a training class, regardless of their experience.
Training available for all skill levels
DPS-MMSC offers beginning, intermediate, advanced and expert rider training courses at 29 training sites across the state. Training courses start the first weekend in April. Riders can register online at motorcyclesafety.org
All riders, no matter their skill level, are encouraged to take a training course:
- Training courses help riders hone their hazard-avoidance skills, which are crucial to avoid roadway hazards, other vehicles and deer.
- Training courses make for better riders. Beginning rider courses provide riders with a foundation for a solid riding strategy. The more advanced courses help riders build on the basics by introducing more advanced skills.
- Training courses help riders improve their cornering technique, a key skill that makes riding more enjoyable and safer for the rider.
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 2015 training season, MMSC trained nearly 6,000 students statewide.
- Some MMSC courses have been renamed to reflect skill level, including the Intermediate Rider Course, MN Advanced Rider Course and MN Expert Rider Course. A complete list of courses and descriptions is available online at motorcyclesafety.org.
- Follow MMSC on Twitter @MnDPS_MCSafety and “like” MMSC on Facebook.