Public safety officials are raising concerns following a deadly weekend on Minnesota roads that saw nearly a dozen fatal crashes, with nearly half involving motorcyclists.
The Minnesota State Patrol said the Friday through Sunday stretch is the deadliest on Minnesota roads since 2016, killing 11 people. Five deaths came from motorcycle crashes and one involved a pedestrian.
State officials said Monday that alcohol and drugs are likely factors in two of the crashes and four are related to speeding.
Preliminary numbers show 146 people have died on Minnesota roads so far this year, up from 137 around the same time in 2017.
Bill Shaffer, motorcycle safety coordinator for the Office of Traffic Safety, is urging motorcyclists to wear protective gear and ride sober, adding that the hot weather might have led people to skip protection.
“This last weekend with that high heat index, everybody I saw out on a bike — shorts, T-shirts. I did see a number of riders that were helmeted, but they’re not wearing the rest of the gear, and there’s great gear out there,” Shaffer said. “Kevlar mesh jackets that are armored, pants, that type of thing, so there’s things riders can wear to keep cool yet be protected.”
Shaffer said the deadliest places for motorcyclists are intersections and that riders should stay alert in case a car fails to yield. They can help drivers see them by wearing bright-colored clothing, he said.
Minnesota State Patrol Lieutenant Tiffani Nielson said the largest number of traffic deaths in the state happen during the summer months.
“With this hot weather, we do see a higher incidence of fatal crashes. People are driving faster, they’re more prone to drink alcohol and be out and about,” Nielson said. “That’s why we have the 100 deadliest days of the year that happen in the summertime. We’re always trying to fight against that.”
The State Patrol plans extra patrols as the Fourth of July holiday approaches.