Motorcycle deaths up in May

Seven motorcyclists were killed in May. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports there have been 13 rider deaths so far this year. That's compared to five at the same time in 2011. Preliminary reports from the agency indicate 42 rider deaths in 2011.

Last month, one-third of the state's roadway deaths were motorcyclists. In a typical year, riders account for 10 percent of deaths. In response, the Department of Public Safety is launching a safety and awareness campaign. The department is urging motorists to look twice for motorcyclists, keep a safe distance from all vehicles, especially other motorcyclists, drive at safe speeds and stay focused on driving. Speeding and inattention are the two most-cited contributing factors in motorcycle crashes.

And for motorcyclists, the department is urging them to wear brightly colored protective gear and a helmet for visibility and protection. And they recommend not drinking and riding: one-third of all motorcycle fatalities involve impaired riders, according to the department.

The safety campaign also features a new TV spot, which dramatically illustrates the life-threatening consequences that can occur when drivers are unaware of motorcyclists.

"Nearly half of all motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. The most common factors attributed to other drivers are inattention and failure to yield the right-of-way", according to Bill Shaffer, safety program coordinator.

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