Minnesota has had its deadliest start to motorcycle riding season on record.
Four motorcyclists died in a four-day span this week, bringing the total number of rider fatalities to 11 this year – the most there have been by this point of the year since records began in 1994, the DPS announced Thursday.
The number of rider deaths so far this year equals the number of fatalities at this time in 2014, 2013 and 2012 combined, DPS statistics show.
“With an early spring, we have had more riders on the road,” State Patrol Lt. Tiffani Nielson said in a news release. “Riders and motorists should be alert and take steps to preventing crashes.”
Officials are urging motorcycle safety classes, as well as taking steps to protect themselves by wearing helmets, protective and reflective clothing, and reminding them not to drink and ride.
Preliminary reports show rider error – including speed and losing control – played a factor in four of the crashes this year, while other contributing factors were not reported.
- Seven of the 11 fatalities involved riders who were not wearing helmets.
- The majority of the fatalities were victims over the age of 45.
- Two of the fatalities were passengers on the motorcycle. Five motorcycle passengers were killed in 2014.
The start of 2010 saw the next deadliest motorcycle season to date, with 10 fatalities, according to DPS statistics. At this time last year, there was just one motorcycle fatality.
There were 44 motorcycle deaths in total in 2014, preliminary numbers show, down from 60 in 2013.
So far this year, there have been 106 traffic fatalities in the state – with 10 percent involving motorcycles, the DPS notes.