this photo from the 2008 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is posted at www.sturgismotorcyclerally.com

Sturgis Rally's Start Prompts MN Reminder

The 69th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally began Monday in Sturgis, S.D. Minnesota's Department of Public Safety noted August and September are typically high in motorcyclist deaths in the state, and the 27 riders killed so far this year are two more than at the same point in 2008.

The 69th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally began Aug. 3 in Sturgis, S.D., and the Department of Public Safety in adjacent Minnesota marked the occasion by reminding motorcyclists that August and September are typically high in motorcyclist deaths in the state; the 27 riders killed so far this year are two more than at the same point in 2008; and a record 225,000 motorcycles are registered in Minnesota. The rally continues through Sunday.

The department also noted that "the most common factors attributed to motorcycle riders in crashes are speed, inexperience, inattention and impairment -— all within the rider's control. Motorcyclists should slow down, ride within their limits, stay focused and ride sober. Last year, 47 percent of riders killed had been using alcohol -— 42 percent were over the legal limit of .08."

Less than 5 percent of the motor vehicles registered in Minnesota are motorcycles, but motorcyclists were nearly 16 percent of the state's 455 motor vehicle fatalities last year, according to DPS.

Other motorists share responsibility for motorcyclists' safety. Cheri Marti, director of the DPS Office of Traffic Safety, said nearly half of all motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. "Watch carefully for motorcycle riders this weekend, and expect to see them throughout the summer and well into fall," she said last Friday.

The Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center, an OTS program, offers riding tips and training for riders. Call 800-407-6677 or visit www.motorcyclesafety.org to enroll in a training course. Tips for riders to be more visible in traffic are available at www.HighViz.org.

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