30,000-motorycle Flood Run caps deadly summer

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The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is asking drivers and motorcycle riders to use extra caution this weekend as an estimated 30,000 motorcycles hit the Mississippi and St. Croix River valleys for the annual Fall Flood Run. According to preliminary reports, 51 motorcyclists have died on Minnesota roads this year compared to 46 in all of 2014.

Earlier this month, a Cottage Grove, Minn. woman was killed in a motorcycle crash in Oakdale, Minn. while participating in a benefit ride for the widow of a motorcyclist killed earlier this summer.

The Flood Run is a charity ride that started in 1965 with a trip to Winona, Minn. to help with sandbagging efforts. The annual ride has grown to tens of thousands of motorcycles, with this year's special wristband purchases benefiting Gillette Children's Specialty Health Care. Learn more about the Saturday, Sept. 19 ride and route at http://www.floodrun.net.

The Minnesota State Patrol, along with county deputies and local police, will have extra patrols in southeastern Minnesota to ensure a safe riding environment. Flood Run volunteers will also be assisting with traffic control along the route.

“We ask riders to make smart, safe choices to keep themselves, their passengers and others safe when they are on the road,” State Patrol Lt. Tiffani Schweigart said. “Riders need to make their own safety a priority this weekend and always.”

Safety tips for riders

Be prepared for inattentive drivers by staying focused on riding and keeping your speed in check.

Wear the gear. Motorcyclists should wear a DOT-approved helmet and brightly colored protective gear for visibility and protection.

Don’t drink and ride. One-third of all motorcycle fatalities involve impaired riders.

Safety tips for car drivers

Watch for motorcycles. Due to the smaller size of motorcycles, their speed and distance is more difficult to judge.

Always look twice before entering a roadway or changing lanes.

Give riders room and check blind spots.

Pay attention and drive at safe speeds.