There have been so many motorcycle accidents in Minnesota this year.  I witnessed and was the first  on the accident scene of a young man that had a car pull out in front of him on 27th Avenue West.   It was horrible to watch his body catapult over the hood of the car, a vision that replays over and over in my mind. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says the number of fatalities continues to surge.

This year’s 47 Minnesota motorcyclist deaths to-date have eclipsed the 2011 total of 42.  With five deaths in the past week, rider deaths continue to surge in September with eight deaths for the month.

Officials say one reason was that motorcyclists are starting to ride earlier in the season.  With rising gas prices, more people are choosing motorcycles as a mode of transportation and that has also added to the statistics.  Ridership is at an all-time high in the state, with more than 230,000 registered motorcycles and more than 400,000 licensed operators. The highest number of motorcyclist deaths was in 1980 when 121 were killed.

Bill Shaffer of the DPS Motorcycle Safety Center says,  “It’s been a violent year on the road for motorcyclists and it’s up to both riders and drivers to reduce these tragedies.”

Many of the accidents could have been avoided.  The leading crash factors each year for rider deaths are rider error, alcohol use and motorist failure to yield.  Of course, where we live plays into the fatalities as deer-motorcycle crashes pose a new threat to riders with the autumn season. Riders should avoid riding at dusk. If impact seems imminent release the brakes just prior to impact and try to swerve around the deer. Last year, deer-motorcycle fatal crashes resulted in five of the 42 rider deaths.

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 and drive at safe speeds.

· Riders — Wear protective gear, pay attention, ride at safe speeds and ride sober. Take safety training courses to hone skills; more information can be found at

You could also consider the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC).  They provide high-quality rider education, training and licensing to prevent motorcycle crashes and the resulting fatalities and injuries.

They provide on-cycle and classroom rider training courses; media relations, events, campaign and informational materials; and third-party skills testing for motorcycle license endorsement through the Basic Rider Course and evening motorcycle testing project at select DVS Exam Stations.