Now that warm weather conditions have finally returned to the region, people in both Minnesota and Wisconsin are once again free to go outside and participate in their favorite activities.

For many people, the outdoor activity of choice during these summer months is taking their motorcycle out of storage and out on the open road. However, unlike fishing, golfing or gardening, this is one pastime that comes with a significant degree of risk.

To illustrate, consider that last week alone there were five fatal motorcycle accidents in Minnesota, bringing the total number of fatalities for 2014 to 11. Similarly, 28 other motorcyclists have suffered personal injuries in motorcycle accidents since the end of May.

Unfortunately, the overall motorcycle fatality numbers in Minnesota have mirrored the national trend by spiking in the 1970s and 1980s, falling in the 1990s, and spiking again from 1997 through 2008. Indeed, the Land of 10,000 Lakes saw its highest number of motorcycle fatalities since 1985 in 2008 with 72 deaths.

While law enforcement officials have indicated that motorcyclists can — and must — practice safe driving habits while behind the handlebars — wear a helmet, obey the speed limit, etc. — motorists must do the same while behind the wheel.

To illustrate, in the wake of the five fatalities last week, law enforcement officials in Minneapolis called on motorists to “take the extra time to truly look for people on motorcycles.”

While this is very important, it’s also equally important for motorists to keep their eyes and their thoughts on the road at all times. In other words, they need to avoid distracted driving, meaning no newspaper, no makeup, no food and, of course, no cell phone.

Here’s hoping that both motorcyclists and motorists take this advice to heart and make the roads a safer place this summer.

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a fatal motor vehicle accident caused by the reckless actions of another motorist.

Source: The Star Tribune, “Grim week for Minnesotans on motorcycles; 5 killed, 28 injured,” Emma Nelson and Paul Walsh, June 7, 2014