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The number of motorcycle riders in Minnesota continue to grow. Experts have been pointing to increased gas prices, overall economics, and the advantages concerning parking as the reason for the trend. Others just point out the joy of getting out on the open road. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety numbers show 112,551 registered riders in 1996, 149,000 in 2002 and 224,625 in 2008.

While the numbers for motor vehicle deaths has dropped over the past two years, deaths from motorcycles have tripled, from a record low of 24 in 1997 to recent high of 72 in 2008. Already this year, spring has produced a couple of tragedies.

A recent Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial 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. If we can go into this new season with an eye to reducing vs. increasing the number of deaths it will make for a much better summer.

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