ST. PAUL, Minn. - It's an alarming number that has state officials and motorcycle enthusiasts puzzled.
"I'm not sure why," says Paul Meisel, a long-time rider from Mound. "Maybe it's because of people not paying attention, on the phone and texting."
Whatever the reason, the Department of Public Safety wants to focus on safety on and around motorcycles. Already this year, there have been 17 motorcycle deaths. There were only 10 at this time in 2011.
"It's really sad and it doesn't have to be that way," says Steve Krenz with the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center. "It's too many."
Krenz suggests riders of all ages and experience levels should take the state's rider safety class. He spent Saturday at the Antique Motorcycle Show on the State Fairgrounds recruiting riders to sign up and sharpen their skills.
"Motorcycling can be dangerous, but with the proper training they can ride safely," he says. "And when motorists aren't paying attention, we can teach them to riders how to deal with it."
Over 9,000 people will take the safety classes this year. It's one of many ways to curb the numbers of fatalities.
The Department of Public Safety is also getting the message to motorists to "Look Twice for Motorcycles" on digital boards on metro freeways.
"It's always sad to hear those numbers," said long-time rider Tom Kluver. "I think some peope think they're going to live forever and you can't have that attitude. You have to be on edge all the time."
The MN Safety Center website includes information on the safety classes.
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