Motorcycle fatalities in Minnesota are on the rise. So far in 2012, there have been 20 rider fatalities compared to the 13 fatalities in 2011, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Early in July, an Oakdale man died from head injuries after he swerved to miss hitting a deer. He was not wearing a helmet.

Earlier in 2012, a Lake Elmo man died after he was ejected from his motorcycle and he was wearing a helmet. A Stillwater man was not wearing his helmet and died in a crash near Forest Lake.

Ten percent of motorcycle fatalities are related to swerving around deer. This is up from the figures in the 1990s, but is most likely due to the deer population being much higher now than it was then. The remainder of accidents occur due to speeding, rider negligence, and the negligence of motorists on the road not watching out for motorcyclists before pulling onto the roadway or pulling out at intersections.

The Minnesota Department of Safety does urge motorcyclists to take regular safety training classes. Such rider education, training, and licensing is available. Unlike many states, Minnesota does not require mandatory motorcycle training. It is estimated that only 500 out of 400,000 riders in the state take the training classes. That tells officials that individuals do not consider training important after they receive their license.

For those that take motorcycle training, the training courses include swerving safely, quick stopping drills, “Brake and Escape,” and wearing the proper gear.

The Department of Public Safety has also been enforcing speed more heavily throughout the state, especially on Saturdays when there are more motorcyclists on the road. Officers have been focusing on motorcycle traffic between 4 p.m. and 12 a.m. because that is the timeframe in which accidents occur the most.