Sep 10, 2013

Chew on This

MNDOT Press Release:

Motorcyclist Deaths Continue to Rise

Three of the eight weekend deaths were motorcyclists. To-date in 2013, there have been 53 rider deaths, putting the state on pace for 68 deaths for 2013, up from 55 rider deaths in 2012. The highest number of motorcyclist deaths on record is 1980 when 121 were killed.

DPS officials say there’s no clear indicator for the increase in deaths, but common crash factors are playing a role including rider error and motorist failure to yield the right-of-way.

“It’s time motorcyclists and drivers step up and take action to reduce these tragedies,” says Bill Shaffer of the DPS Motorcycle Safety Center. “Unfortunately preventable mistakes are leading to the spiking death count.”

Key Findings in 2013 Motorcycle Fatal Crashes
  • Age: 64 percent of the motorcyclists killed were over the age of 45; 19 percent were under 30. Young riders (30 and under) represent a mere one percent of the total driving population, older riders (45 and up) are only seven percent of the total driving population — together these riders represent 20 percent of the total traffic deaths to-date.
  • Contributing Factors: There have been 50 fatal crashes resulting in the 53 rider deaths. More than half of the fatal crashes involved only the motorcycle; failure to negotiate a curve was cited 19 times. The remaining crashes involved another vehicle, of which failure to yield the right-of-way was cited nine times.
  • Deer: Six of the fatal crashes involved a collision with a deer, matching 2007, the highest number of deer deaths on record. Fatalities resulting from a collision with a deer are an immerging trend within the last decade. During 2002-2012, 43 motorcyclists have been killed in a crash with a deer, four times more than between 1991-2000 (10 deaths). This year is on pace to be the deadliest with deer and we are just bridging the autumn deer season.
  • Helmet Use: Helmet use is known in 42 of the 53 rider deaths, of those, 31 were not wearing a helmet; only 12 riders were wearing a helmet.
  • Location: More than 60 percent of the crashes occurred in a rural area; 28 percent of the crashes occurred in the 7-county metro area. The top six deadliest counties include: Hennepin (6); Goodhue and St. Louis (4 each); Crow Wing, Dakota and Olmsted (3 each).
In case you have a reading and/or math disability, let's analyze some of the critical data. 50 fatal crashes minus 19 "failure to negotiate a curve" solo crashes and at least another 6 single vehicle crashes = something less than 50% of crashes to be blamed on someone other than the dead motorcyclists. Failure to yield the right-of-way was "cited" in 9 deaths, or no more than 18% of motorcycle deaths. Does anyone else see the problem in ABATE and MNDOT's "Start Seeing Motorcyclists" program? Why would we focus on the minority contribution to motorcycle deaths when incompetent riders are the overwhelming cause? This kind of thinking is what caused the US auto industry to nearly disappear from the earth in the 1970s.

I suggest reviewing a commonly-known phenomena for solving problems:


  1. Looks an awful lot like wearing a good helmet is a smart hedge against the reaper...

    Had a superclose call with a deer this year. Luck played the biggest part of the miss... luck that I saw it coming. But I was wearing full protective gear because someday I may not be so lucky. Helmet saved me early on in my riding years... the road rash convinced me to wear the rest of the protective gear.

  2. Sad but true. It seems as much as a lot of folks would like to blame people in other vehicles most accidents in Oregon seem to be operator error. Failing to negotiate a curve and there have been two in the last month or so when the cruiser riders crossed the center line into oncoming traffic.

    We have a responsibility to ourselves to know what the heck we are doing when out there on two wheels. More riders need to take responsibility for their own safety and get the extra training.


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