Motorcycle deaths are on the increase in Minnesota, state officials said Thursday, with fatalities for 2012 now at 47—a figure that includes Fridley firefighter Scott Allard and Fridley police officer Barry Pankonin.
The tally of fatalities this year has already passed the 42 motorcycle-crash deaths in Minnesota in 2011, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. (See the DPS 2011 Crash Facts for motorcycles by clicking on PDF thumbnail.) At least one of those 2011 crashes was in Fridley: Nicholas Alexander Owczynsky of Lauderdale died in September 2011 after he wiped out while trying to turn at University and 73rd avenues NE.
Warmer weather that allows a longer season for motorcycling in non-winter conditions is one factor. Minnesota's first motorcycle death this year was in March. Allard died in April 2012 from injuries sustained in a March crash in Fridley. Pankonin died from injuries from a crash near his home in Plymouth.
The DPS offered this advice for motorcyclists and other drivers (see YouTube too):
- Motorcyclists: Wear protective gear, pay attention, ride at safe speeds and ride sober. DPS advises riders to take safety training courses to hone skills; more information at www.motorcyclesafety.org.
- Other drivers: Watch for motorcycles, and always look twice before entering a roadway or changing lanes. Due to the smaller size of motorcycles, their speed and distance is more difficult to judge. Give riders room and check blind spots. Pay attention and drive at safe speeds.
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- Memorial service for Fridley Police Officer Barry Pankokin
- More than 50 photos from Pankonin's funeral
- Scott Allard Dies from Injuries Sustained in Motorcycle Crash
- Motorcyclist Dies in Fridley Crash