Our Opinion: We all must be aware on Minnesota roads

Published 5:06 pm Friday, April 12, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

You will rarely find a more dedicated or passionate group of riders on American roads than motorcyclists.

Throughout our history of the engine, the motorcycle has represented freedom on the open road and provided riders the opportunity to go places many can’t go. The exhilaration of the open road, in many cases, calls to the riders.

It doesn’t take much warming of the temperatures to coax riders onto the roads and as the temperatures continue to go up, we will see more of a rise in the numbers of motorcycles on the road.

Email newsletter signup

What follows is a need for greater attention paid to the roads from all vehicle operators to ensure that everyone goes home safely.

According to numbers for 2021 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 6,000 motorcyclists were killed, the highest number since at least 1975, and it’s been a trend that’s steadily been rising since 2000.

In that same year, the NHTSA estimated that motorcycle riders were about 24 times more likely to die in motor vehicle crashes.

In Minnesota last year, there were a total of 414 fatalities on our roads out of 376 fatal crashes. Of those fatalities, 70 were motorcycle riders.

Because of a motorcycle’s ability to go places larger vehicles can’t there is a lack of visibility. The bikes can easily skirt through tight lanes and go around things while being nearly invisible to the driver not paying attention.

This is made even more difficult by vehicle blindspots, especially those of bigger vehicles like semi trucks, that motorcycles can sneak in and out of without drivers in other vehicles noticing until it’s too late.

However, the onus of heightened awareness isn’t on other drivers alone. Those on motorcycles also have to do their part to ensure there are no wrecks. Riding motorcycles irresponsibly, such as weaving from lane to lane, splitting vehicles on multi-lane roads or simply speeding can incur just as much risk and can contribute just as much to devastating accidents.

We also urge riders to take these precautions when riding:

• Wear a helmet that meets standards.

• Ensure that arms and legs are completely covered, ideally with leather or heavy denim.

• Wear colors that are easily identifiable to other drivers.

There is one more thing we want to point out and this is meant for landowners with property next to roadways.

While driver safety is a responsibility of us all, landowners also have a part to play, especially when it comes to maintaining property. When mowing, direct your clippings away from roadways.

For many, there may not seem a danger in grass clippings and many may assume that the wind will help clear them from the streets.

It’s true clippings may not be a danger for four-wheel vehicles, but grass is 75-85% water and can make a roadway slick, increasing the danger to motorcyclists traveling the roadways, especially if the rider turns a bend and doesn’t see it ahead of time.

We all play a part in safety on our roadways. We urge everybody to do what they can to help lower traffic risks on Minnesota’s roads for all vehicle operators.