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2013 motorcyclist fatalities pass 25-death milestone

More motorcyclists have died this year on Minnesota roads compared to last year at this time, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC). Twenty-six riders have lost their lives in 2013; there were 18 motorcycle deaths at this time last year.

Already in July five riders have died, including three on July 4 in two separate crashes. That follows a deadly June when 10 riders were killed, making it the deadliest month for riders in 2013.

So far this year, there have been 162 traffic fatalities in Minnesota, 16 percent of which are riders. There were 55 motorcyclist deaths in 2012.

DPS officials point to many of the same contributing factors for the rider deaths this year including motorcyclist's error and failure to yield the right-of-way.

2013 Fatal Motorcycle Crash Facts

· Age: 46 percent of the motorcyclists killed were over the age of 50; 31 percent were under 30.

· Deer: Two of the fatal crashes involved a collision with a deer, a common trend within the last decade. During 2002-2012, 43 motorcyclists have been killed in a crash with a deer.

· Helmet Use: Of the 22 motorcyclists with helmet-use cited in crash reports, over half (15) were not wearing a helmet. Seven riders were wearing a helmet.

· Contributing Factors: Nearly half of the crashes involved another vehicle. In the motorcycle-only crashes, failure to negotiate a curve was cited eight times.

· Location: Over 60 percent of the crashes occurred in a rural area and over one-third in the 12-county metro area. Top four deadliest counties include:

--Hennepin: 4

--Dakota, Pine and Crow Wing: 2

MMSC Program Coordinator, Bill Shaffer, encourages motorists to share the roads, drive at safe speeds and look twice for motorcyclists.

He also says riders should wear full protective gear, including a DOT-approved helmet, brightly colored jacket, rider pants, boots and gloves. Most importantly, he encourages riders to get trained.

"Training is a life-saving option that teaches riders crash-avoidance techniques to stay safe on the road," says Shaffer. "Any experience level is welcome; you can never get too much training as a new rider, returning rider or experienced rider."