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Motorcycle deaths dropped last year

Preliminary data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) show motorcycle deaths dropped significantly last year. There were 52 motorcycle fatalities in Minnesota in 2009, a 28 percent decrease from a 24-year high of 72 deaths in 2008. Officials are calling on motorists and riders to keep the momentum going.

"After a long trend of increasing motorcycle deaths, last year was encouraging. Drivers and riders are getting the message and taking their responsibilities on the road seriously," said Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol.

Motorist awareness, rider training, and law enforcement all contributed to last year's decrease. But with a record high of more than 226,000 motorcycles registered in Minnesota, the risk of rider deaths is still great. And due to high gas prices, more Minnesotans are expected to opt for a 40- to 80-mpg motorcycle or scooter for commuting this year.

Public safety officials advise motorists to stay alert for motorcycle riders now that spring is here and bikes are hitting the roads:

Anticipate: expect to see motorcyclists in traffic, and allow them plenty of room to avoid surface hazards, see and be seen.

Communicate: always use turn signals to indicate your intentions. This allows riders time to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.

Look twice: because motorcycles are smaller, they can be difficult to spot in traffic and can appear to be farther away than they actually are. Take a second look before turning or entering a roadway.

Motorcycle safety information, rider training course schedules and driving tips can be found at