Minnesota motorcycle fatalities up 56 percent this year

Motorcycle deaths in Minnesota are up significantly higher compared to this time last year, according to the Department of Public Safety. Last year, there were sixteen motorcycle fatalities by this time. And this year, there's already been twenty-five.

Public safety officials are asking motorcyclists to take safety into their own hands and motorists to look twice for motorcycles.

"Motorcyclists and motorists need to work together to share the road to prevent more motorcycle fatalities," Lt. Bob Zak, Minnesota State Patrol, said. "It's really unfortunate that there are nine more motorcycle deaths than this time last year, and we need the public's help to keep this number from increasing."

The latest motorcycle death happened Thursday, June 18, around 9:30 p.m. during a pursuit on County Road 75 near County Road 7 in Stearns County. The driver was thrown from the motorcycle and pronounced dead at the scene.

So far this year, there have been 158 traffic fatalities in Minnesota -- nearly 16 percent of those are motorcycle riders. In 2014, 46 motorcyclists were killed in crashes, according to preliminary reports.

Training courses

The Department of Public Safety said contributing factors point to rider error in many of the crashes. Riders were negotiating a curve when 11 of those crashes happened. A second vehicle failing to yield was cited in three of the crashes.

"Training can save a rider's life," said Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC) Program Coordinator Bill Shaffer. "It teaches riders crash-avoidance techniques to stay safe on the road. Any experience level is welcome. You can never get too much training as a new rider, returning rider or experienced rider."

For more information about affordable training courses provided by MMSC, visit motorcyclesafety.org