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Minnesota Motorcycle Fatalities Outpace 2014 by 50 Percent


June 2015

bike, motorcycle, fatalities, safetyAccording to Minnesota's Star Tribune, an increased emphasis on rider safety hasn't reduced the number of fatal motorcycle crashes in the state. Four fatal accidents that occurred during a four-day span in mid-June brought the annual total of motorcycle deaths up to 24. So far, fatalities are 50 percent higher than they were at the same time last year.

Current data suggests that curvy roads pose the greatest risk to riders. About half of all accidents occurred when riders were powering through curves on the state's highways. More than half of the riders who died on Minnesota roads this year were over 40, and a similar portion of riders weren't wearing helmets. Although Minnesota does not require motorcycle operators to wear helmets, public health officials urge riders to wear safety gear.  

The four most recent crashes emphasize the risk that Minnesotans take every time they ride. On the evening of June 16, 54-year-old Guy Donnelly ran off the road. His motorcycle sped through a ditch for 250 feet before the bike crashed. When police responded, Donnelly was dead at the scene. He and the other riders who died in the past week were not wearing helmets.

Two of the four accidents involved pickup trucks that were turning or traveling on the highway. On June 14, 45-year-old Troy Malek sustained fatal injuries while attempting to pass a truck on Highway 61. In a similar situation on the same day, 52-year-old Brett Behnke was hit by a turning truck.

The week's fourth fatality happened at 1 a.m. on June 13 when 24-year-old Justin Posusta crashed his motorcycle near his home. The unmanned bike left a path of destruction as it plowed through a fence, slammed into a house and damaged a natural gas pipe.

This string of deadly crashes has prompted organizations like the Motorcycle Safety Center (MSC) to speak out and encourage motorists to adopt safe driving practices. Megan Mathews, a spokeswoman for the MSC, urged all motorcyclists to enroll in rider training courses. She stated, “classes for beginners and advanced riders teach participants how to navigate curves, travel with other vehicles and master key skills.”

Unfortunately, drivers often cause motorcycle accidents because they are speeding, do not check their blind spots or fail to pay attention. Because motorcycles are smaller, it's harder to judge their speed. This could be one reason why many motorists cut off riders and don't give them enough space.

Advocating safe driving habits is the first step toward making state roads safer and reducing the number of fatal accidents. To accomplish this goal, the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety encourages motorcyclists to follow these guidelines.

  1. Assess your driving skills honestly.
  2. Familiarize yourself with braking techniques.
  3. Understand the concept of countersteering.
  4. Master maneuvers for navigating curves and corners.
  5. Learn counterweight techniques for controlling turns.
  6. Practice avoiding obstacles.
  7. Make time to work on your skills.
  8. Practice techniques individually.
  9. Learn how to drive with a passenger.
  10. Stay within your comfort zone and skill set.

Even an experienced rider can be involved in a deadly motorcycle accident. If this has happened to you or a loved one, contact Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben. Our experienced personal injury attorneys focus on helping victims of motorcycle accidents recover compensation for medical expenses, missed work and other losses. Attorneys Jim Schwebel and Paul Godlewski are avid motorcyclists who understand how devastating an accident can be. Call us today at (612) 377-7777 or or 1-800-752-4265 (toll-free) for a free consultation.