MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been a deadly year for motorcyclists on Minnesota roads. Motorcycle deaths are up nearly 50-percent from this time last year.

Forty-seven riders have died in crashes so far this year. That’s one more than all of 2014.

The numbers have officials asking riders and motorists to do their part to make sure the numbers don’t climb.

Jacob Seidel is one of the lucky ones.

“I was actually knocked off on the highway up to 35E, coming down just south of Forest Lake,” he said.

Seidel was knocked off his motorcycle at highway speed and lived to talk about it.

“I was wearing full gear, so I actually came out quite good in comparison to a lot of people,” he said.

In 2014, 46 motorcyclists died on Minnesota roads. So far this year, 47 motorcyclists have died, and there are still at least two more months of prime riding weather.

“This year, a little over half the crashes have been single-vehicle-only crashes,” Minnesota Department of Public Safety official Bill Shaffer said. “Of those, literally three quarters have been riders losing control on a curb and crashing.”

Shaffer says more than half of those riders were not wearing helmets when they crashed, and 65 percent of them were over age 50.

“So it’s older riders that are being killed,” Shaffer said. “They are not new to motorcycling, and that safety renewal coming back for some training is critical.”

Rider Ariana Sengstock says she does her best to stay safe.

“Coming into this I knew it was a risk but are lots of ways to reduce the risks,” she said.

The experts agree: Many of these fatal crashes can be prevented.

“I have all the gear,” Sengstock said. “I wear it all the time.”

Schaffer says riders who wear protective gear and have a good strategy increase their chances of getting home without getting hurt.

“That includes leaving adequate following distance from other vehicles, so you have time to react,” he said. “You’re covering your control — where you are slowing at intersections, where you observe other vehicles.”

Schaffer says having a good skill set — like balance, good judgement and coordination — are key. It’s also important to note alcohol impairs these skills.

Schaffer hopes riders who are experienced enroll in intermediate and advanced mortorcycle classes to make sure they know how to avoid situations that can cause crashes.

Reg Chapman

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