Minnesota, Wisconsin see high number of motorcycle fatalitiesMotorcyclists have had a rough year in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Motorcyclists have had a rough year in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
According to information from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, both states have already exceeded last year’s motorcyclist fatality totals.
As of Sept. 20, 47 motorcyclists have died in Minnesota; there were 42 motorcyclist fatalities for all of 2011.
In Wisconsin, the number of fatalities as of Sept. 30 was 98. That’s 13 more than in all of 2011.
Pierce County Sheriff Nancy Hove said having motorcycle fatalities isn’t uncommon for Pierce County.
“We always do,” she said.
Just last week, 65-year-old Dennis Manning, of Pine Island, died after the motorcycle he was driving collided with an SUV driven by Cassandra Smith, 20, Red Wing, on Highway 63 near Ellsworth. His passenger, Stephanie Foster, 38, Rochester, also was injured.
In March, a 47-year-old Hammond, Wis., woman was killed when the motorcycle she was riding on collided with a pickup truck in Martell Township.
R-E files indicate that at least five other motorcycle crashes that resulted in injuries have occurred this year in Pierce County.
Hove said the scenic Highway 35 draws a lot of out-of-town motorcyclists to the county.
“Everybody likes to ride on the river road,” Hove said. “A lot of people aren’t locals. They don’t know the roads, they don’t know the corners. That makes a big difference.”
Hove added that a lot of motorcycle runs — which can each draw hundreds of motorcyclists in a given weekend — travel through the county.
“That also adds to the high amount,” she said.
Conversely, Goodhue County Sheriff Scott McNurlin said there have been no motorcyclist fatalities in Goodhue County this year. R-E files indicate that there have been at least six crashes in which a motorcycle was involved.
“Unfortunately motorcyclists hit deer,” McNurlin said. “Other factors are sometimes speed.”
Other causes of motorcycle crashes are rider error, alcohol use and failure to yield, the Department of Public Safety reported.
Adding to this year’s high fatality totals, the DPS said, is a longer rider season than other years. Warm temps in early spring meant motorcyclists were out on highways earlier than other years. The first motorcyclist death occurred in March.
In addition, motorcycle ridership is at an all-time high in Minnesota. There are more than 400,000 licensed operators and more than 230,000 registered motorcycles in Minnesota, the DPS said.
“It’s been a violent year on the road for motorcyclists, and it’s up to both riders and drivers to reduce these tragedies,” said Bill Shaffer of the DPS Motorcycle Safety Center in a statement.
Motorists should double check for motorcycles before changing lanes or entering a roadway and give motorcycles room, the DPS said. Motorcyclists should always wear protective gear, drive at safe speeds and stay sober.