Editorial - Change of seasons brings urgent road reminderIt feels as if we missed a season – spring. The summer-like weather over the past week brought record-shattering, mid-70s temperatures. But it also ushered in an urgent reminder for drivers and motorcycle riders to share the road safely.
It feels as if we missed a season – spring. The summer-like weather over the past week brought record-shattering, mid-70s temperatures.
But it also ushered in an urgent reminder for drivers and motorcycle riders to share the road safely.
The first death of a motorcyclist in Minnesota this year happened last Tuesday when a 28-year-old man in Lake Elmo died after his motorcycle left the road and struck a tree.
Traffic safety officials warn that as the warm weather continues across the state – and as rising fuel costs make motorcycles more popular and affordable – drivers and motorcycles should brush up quickly on their safe driving skills. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) offers this specific life-saving advice:
• Motorists are advised to watch carefully for motorcycles in traffic, and always look twice before turning or changing lanes.
• Riders are advised to wear protective gear, travel at safe speeds, pay attention and ride sober. DPS advises that riders seek safety training at www.motorcyclesafety.org, and wear high-visibility riding gear.
“Most motorcycle crash fatalities result from rider error,” said Bill Shaffer of the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC). “Many crashes can be avoided with crash-avoidance skills developed through training.”
The number of motorcycles and motorcyclists are at record-high levels in Minnesota – there are almost 230,000 registered motorcycles and more than 404,000 licensed operators, according to the DPS. Rider training helps new riders earn a license, and sharpens skills for returning and experienced riders. Course registration is available at motorcyclesafety.org for training at 31 MnSCU locations from April through October – including at the Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC). Basic rider courses at the ATCC start on May 4 and continue into September. The cost is $160.
In the last five years, nearly 43,000 riders have taken a MMSC rider training course statewide.
Riding a motorcycle and enjoying the thrill of being out in the open air is a rite of spring. But, as with any other vehicle, it’s not all fun and games. The dangers are all too real. At least 41 motorcycle riders died on Minnesota roads last year. Rider deaths account for 10 percent of Minnesota total traffic deaths annually, according to the DPS.
That’s why it’s so important for drivers and motorcycle riders to be aware of one another, practice defensive driving techniques and to take classes that can save them from becoming a statistic this spring and summer.