It’s been a slow start to the riding season as winter has lingered into spring.

So it’s extremely important motorists are aware of the thousands of motorcyclists who will be out riding with the change in weather.

The first motorcycle fatality happened April 12 in Prior Lake when a pick-up truck turned in front of a motorcycle on Highway 13, according to Minnesota State Patrol.

At this time last year, there were already three motorcycle fatalities, according to preliminary reports.

While motorists should be looking twice for motorcycles and sharing the road, riders should be aware of spring riding conditions and make safe riding a priority.

Snow run-off freezes at night, pavement is uneven and there is sand and gravel at intersections and turns.

“Riders and drivers need to take it slow and get used to sharing the road again after a long winter,” says Lt. Tiffani Nielson, Minnesota State Patrol. “That means riders taking safety into their own hands and drivers diligently looking out for motorcyclists before they change lanes and at intersections.”

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Motorcycle Safety Center (DPS-MMSC) offers these safety tips for motorists and motorcyclists:

Motorists

• Watch for motorcycles. Due to their smaller size their speed and distance is more difficult to judge.

• Always look twice before entering a roadway or changing lanes.

• Give riders room and check blind spots before changing lanes or making a turn.

• Pay attention and drive at safe speeds.

Riders

• Be prepared for inattentive drivers by staying focused on riding and keeping your speed in check.

• Wear the gear. Motorcyclists are highly encouraged to wear a DOT-approved helmet and brightly colored protective gear for visibility and protection.

• Don’t drink and ride. One-third of all motorcycle fatalities involve impaired riders.

• Take a training course. Training is under way at most MMSC training sites. Visit motorcyclesafety.org for information.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management.

DPS activity is anchored by three core principles, including education, enforcement and prevention.

The Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC) provides high-quality rider education, training and licensing to prevent motorcycle crashes and the resulting fatalities and injuries. It was created in the early 1980s to address record high motorcyclist fatalities.

The MMSC provides on-cycle and classroom rider training courses, develops awareness campaigns and informational materials and coordinates third-party skills testing for motorcycle license endorsement through the basic rider course and evening testing at select DVS exam stations.

Motorcycle safety is a component of toward zero deaths (TZD), the state’s primary road safety initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.

There are more than 236,000 registered motorcycles and more than 414,000 licensed operators in Minnesota.

During the 2017 training season, MMSC trained nearly 6,000 students statewide.

Learn more about motorcycle safety at dps.mn.gov.

Information courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Photo courtesy of the Internet Public Domain