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First Minnesota Motorcycle Accident Death of 2015 Prompts Safe Driving Reminder


April 2015

In the wake of Minnesota's first motorcycle fatality in 2015, drivers and motorcyclists alike are being reminded to stay safe and share the roads responsibly. The unfortunate accident occurred on Sunday, March 15 in Santiago Township, which is located in Sherburne County. The motorcyclist, a 53-year-old man, ran off a county road and into a mailbox around 6:30 p.m. Based on preliminary investigations, police believe speed was a factor in the incident. Also, the driver was not wearing a helmet. No other injuries or fatalities were reported, but the incident is a sobering reminder of the very real risks that are involved in being on the road.

Over the last several years, the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center has teamed up with other agencies to help reduce the number of fatal motorcycle accidents that happen in the state each year. 60 motorcycle fatalities happened in 2013, but the number dropped to 44 in 2014. It is hoped it will be lower still in 2015. However, the first fatality in 2014 happened right around the same time as the most recent one -- it took place on March 11 -- so it is still up to motorists and motorcyclists to engage in safe driving habits to keep those numbers as low as possible.

Safety Tips for Motorcyclists

If you'll be hitting the roads on your Harley or other motorcycle this year, keep the following safety tips in mind to minimize your risk of being involved in an accident:

  • Assume Other Drivers can't See You - In about half of all motor vehicle-motorcycle accidents, motorists failed to see motorcyclists until it was too late. Therefore, always assume that you're invisible to drivers, and act accordingly.
  • Use Your Front Brake Too - Don't let fears about flying over the handlebars keep you from using the front brake, which provides about 70 percent of stopping power. Rather, squeeze the front brake gently until you slow down sufficiently.
  • Keep Your Eyes Where You Want to Go - Engage in visual directional control, which means keeping your eyes about three to four seconds ahead of you while cornering. During an emergency, avoid "target fixation," which means focusing on the oncoming car, guardrail, shoulder or other dangerous area.
  • Maintain Control - Whatever you do, never deliberately relinquish control of the bike. For instance, don't ditch it, or lay it down, during an emergency.
  • Counter-Steer - Avoid losing control by initially turning your handlebars in the opposite direction of which you'd like the bike to go. Never lean the bike using your body; press forward on the appropriate handlebar instead.

Safety Tips for Motorists

As a motorist, there's a lot you can do to prevent motorcycle accidents and fatalities in 2015. Most tips follow a similar theme: Always be on the lookout for motorcycles. For instance, always wait a little longer after a large vehicle turns to ensure a bike wasn't hidden next to it or behind it. Look twice before making a left turn, and always check your blind spots twice before changing lanes. Maintain a safe distance behind motorcycles -- never cut in front of them. Finally, whenever possible, make eye contact with motorcyclists and nod to let them know you see them.

Protect Your Rights in a Motorcycle Accident

Hopefully, 2015 will turn out to be the safest year on record for motorcyclists. Still, if you or a loved one is injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, you need to take steps to protect your rights immediately. We can help. Call Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben for a free consultation today at 1-612-377-7777 or 1-800-752-4265 (toll-free).