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Echo Press Editorial: Too many lives cut short in motorcycle crashes

Too many lives have been cut tragically short in motorcycle crashes.

Our area is still grieving the loss of Howard Ogaard and Beverly Palmer, Alexandria residents who died in a motorcycle crash near the Fairgounds on May 17.

Between May 29 and June 5, motorcycle crashes claimed four lives and injured another 28 in Minnesota, according to Bill Shaffer, program cordinator for the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC).

Here’s what happened in the most recent incidents: A three-vehicle crash on I-35W in Bloomington killed a motorcyclist; two motorcyclists were struck in a North Minneapolis intersection by another motorist, killing one rider and injuring the other; a motorcyclist and his passenger were involved in a hit and run on Highway 169 north of St. Peter (the driver has since been found); a motorcyclist was injured when he struck a deer in Olmsted County; a motorcyclist was injured when he lost control on a County Road in Stearns County and struck a guardrail; two motorcycles crashed into one another in Rock Dell Township, causing non-life threatening injuries (alcohol was a factor in the crash and the incident remains under investigation); a motorist pulled out in front of a motorcycle heading west on County Road 46 in Freeborn County and the motorcyclist suffered non-life threatening injuries; and a van made a U-turn on Highway 95 in Isanti County directly in front of a motorcycle, causing the motorcycle to hit the van, killing both the rider and the passenger.

These incidents should serve as reminders that everyone on the road must do their part to stop these kinds of crashes from happening. The MMSC offers this advice:

For motorists:

•Watch for motorcycles, and always look twice, especially at intersections when turning left, before entering a roadway or changing lanes.

•Check blind spots. Motorcycles are easily hidden in traffic. Always take a second look over your shoulder. Don’t rely solely on your mirrors.

•Give riders room. Motorcyclists prefer to use a large space cushion, allowing them more time to react. Do not cut in front of a motorcycle and eliminate their safe following distance.

•Pay attention and drive at safe speeds.

For riders:

•Protect yourself. Wear high-visibility protective gear, including a DOT-approved helmet, eye protection, riding pants, brightly colored motorcycle jacket and boots.

•Make eye contact often with drivers. Be confident that they see you.

•Ride sober. If you ride, don’t drink and if you drink, don’t ride.

•Get trained. Dust off and hone your skills with a beginner or advanced rider training course. Learn crash-avoidance techniques for unexpected hazards on the road.