MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the past two days, Minnesota State Patrol reports five people have died on Minnesota roads in four separate crashes.

One of those people killed was a motorcyclist in southwest Minnesota. Authorities say there has been an alarming increase in motorcycle fatalities so far this year over last year.

According to the State Patrol there have been 31 motorcycle rider deaths since the beginning of this year, compared to 17 at this point last year. White Bear Lake resident Curtis Lembke says he uses his motorcycle to get to and from his job at a Twin Cities Harley Davidson shop.

“I took an extra safety course and passed it, then took the test and got my motorcycle license,” Lembke said.

Practicing what he preaches at work, Lembke says he always uses a helmet to get around because he knows the added risk of being a motorcycle in a sea of cars.

The State Patrol says many of the riders involved in fatal crashes were heading around curves and most crashes involved speeding or some type of driver error.

Almost half of the people who have died so far this year were motorcyclists in their 50s, according to the State Patrol.

Lembke says he sees a lot of baby boomers in his store.

“They got into it in their 20s and then got out of it for 30 years,” he said. “Then, when their kids get out of the house they get back into the sport and don’t take a refresher course,” Lembke said.

The State Patrol also says many older riders got a license years ago but don’t invest in advanced rider safety courses.

Authorities hope these alarming numbers do not continue to grow at such a rapid pace.

Law enforcement says the record number of motorcyclist fatalities was in 1908, when 121 motorcyclists were killed in crashes.

Lembke says motorcycles have changed and gotten a lot bigger in the last couple of decades so courses at around $50-100 can make a huge difference.

More than 30 locations offer such rider courses around the state. Click here for more information.

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