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Motorcycles and Motorists

The number of motorcycles and motorcycle operators in Minnesota has reached an all-time high. Unfortunately, motorcycle crashes, fatalities and injuries are also high. As of July 22nd, there have been 33 motorcycle fatalities in Minnesota to date. This is up from 20 fatalities by this same date last year. What can be done to prevent motorcycle crashes?


- Be prepared for the riding task, mentally and physically. Be well rested and free from any type of impairment.

- Stay focused on the riding task and slow down. Inattention and excessive speed are two of the most cited factors leading to a crash.

- Be seen, be protected and be trained. Motorcycles are smaller than most other roadway users. It is easy for us to be concealed by other vehicles in traffic. Wear bright colored protective gear so other motorists can see you. Use space cushioning, lane placement, proper entry speed and a 12 second visual lead. If these terms are not familiar, you need to take a rider training course. It could potentially save your life. Most crashes involve riders with no formal training. I thought I was a good rider; I had ridden thousands of miles and toured the western United States. Then I took a rider training course and learned how much I did not know. Learn more about the types of courses available at


- Watch for motorcycles. Always look twice before entering a roadway or changing lanes.

- Know that motorcycles are smaller and their speed and distance from you are more difficult to judge.

- Pay attention, don’t drive with distractions and drive at safe speeds.

- Share the road. Know that motorcycles have a right to the entire lane and will frequently move left and right within a lane, to avoid hazards and increase visibility.

- Know that motorcyclists are people….fathers, mothers, sons, daughters. Give us the respect you would give your own family.

Education is only one of many entities working to help reduce and prevent severe crashes. The statewide initiative Towards Zero Deaths includes the four E’s – Education, Engineering, Enforcement, and Emergency Medical and Trauma Services. However, the most important ‘E’ is Everyone. It takes everyone to do their part in making our roads safe and to achieve the goal of zero deaths! Drive Safe.

Paul T. Parthun

Motorcycle Safety Foundation Rider Coach since 1991.


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