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| Bradshaw & Bryant PLLC

Very sad news hit the news wires today, as it was announced that the CEO of Freedom Gas station was killed in a Montana motorcycle crash. Reports are that his bike left the road north of the Bridger Bowl ski area in Bozman. His wife was injured and taken to the hospital. Speed and alcohol were both ruled out as contributing factors. David Erickson was CEO of Erickson Oil Products Inc./Freedom Valu Centers based in Hudson, Wis. The private, family owned company has 65 stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Michigan.

Our sympathies go out to his family and friends. Hopefully, the investigation will uncover what happened and help with the prevention of more loses like this. It is my understanding that Mr Erickson was an experienced rider. Unfortunately, over the last couple of years we have been seeing an increase in the number of new riders or returning riders that are being killed when they leave the road.

Last year the steady rise in motorcycle crashes became a top concern of the U.S. Department of Transportation, said Secretary Mary Peters, who broke her collarbone a few years ago when she crashed her Harley-Davidson Road King at 40 mph.

To address the problem, the Transportation Department is developing national standards for entry-level riders and has launched an educational campaign on the importance of wearing helmets and other safety gear. Congress has also become involved, authorizing $2 million to study crash causes.

For every driver and rider it’s important that the following be kept in mind:

1. Yield the right-of-way.

2. Start seeing motorcycles.

3. When on a motorcycle, make sure people see you.

4. When just starting to ride, make sure you have the correct training.

The road is big enough for everyone.

A Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial on the topic, got a number of comments after it made the following suggestions to deal with the increase:

  • Increased training of new drivers.
  • More emphasis on sober riding.
  • The Increased use of safety equipment.
  • Drivers paying more attention on the roads.

The discussion about helmets dominated most of the responses. Clearly, this is one there may not ever be an agreement on, but as to the other suggestions, they really make a lot of sense. Every new driver needs to get the all important training that riding a motorcycle isn’t like a bike or a car.

As an attorney who has represented a large number of riders, I’ve seen the devastation caused by car/bike collisions. As with any highway death, there are a number of issues that will need to be reviewed. My partner, Joe Crumley, addressed this topic in a article for the Minnesota Lawyers Trial magazine. I was interviewed on the same topic.

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