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Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Megan Matthews  651-201-7566
August 31, 2015
Motorcycle Rider Deaths Reach 47 for the Year Passing Total for all of 2014
Deadly Year for Riders; Officials Call on Riders and Motorists to Keep Roads Safe

​ST. PAUL — Forty-seven riders have died in motorcycle crashes so far in 2015, passing the total number of motorcycle fatalities in 2014. Forty-six riders died last year. With a few months left of the riding season, public safety officials are asking riders and motorists to make safety a priority to help prevent this number from rising.

Motorcycle deaths are up about 47 percent from this time last year when there were 32 rider deaths. There is no specific reason for the increase in rider deaths; however, there are some common themes based on the preliminary investigations.

“More than half of these riders weren’t wearing a helmet when they crashed, and nearly half of these fatal crashes were single-vehicle crashes involving only the motorcycle,” says Bill Shaffer with the Department of Public Safety Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (DPS-MMSC). “These are preventable. We strongly encourage riders to take a training course, wear full protective gear and slow down. It could save their life.”
DPS-MMSC officials also ask motorcyclists and motorists to share the road. Failure to yield continues to be the most-cited contributing factor in fatal motorcycle crashes.
2015 Preliminary Fatal Motorcycle Crash Facts:
Helmet Use: 31 of the riders killed were not wearing helmets. Twelve riders were wearing a helmet. It was not reported whether or not the remaining four riders were wearing helmets.
Age: 65 percent of the fatalities involved riders over the age of 46; 15 percent were under 30.
Passengers: Six passengers have died in motorcycle crashes in six crashes. Four of those crashes also killed the driver.
Contributing Factors: In 19 of the crashes, riders were negotiating a curve when they lost control and crashed. Speed is also cited as a contributing factor in 11 of the crashes.

Public Safety Officials urge all motorcyclists to:

  • Wear protective gear, including a DOT-approved helmet and brightly-colored protective gear for visibility and protection.
  • Be prepared for inattentive drivers by staying focused on riding and keeping speed in check.
  • Never drink and ride.
  • Always ride within their skillset, use good judgement and maintain a 3-second following distance.
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
  • Follow MMSC on Twitter @MnDPS_MCSafety and “like” MMSC on Facebook.

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