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Motorcylcle deaths top 2008 pace

So far this year, 27 motorcycle riders have died on Minnesota roads, compared to 25 at this time in 2009.

There were 72 motorcyclist fatalities in 2008, the most since 1985.

Motorcycles make up less than 5 percent of all registered vehicles, but represented nearly 16 percent of the 455 motor vehicle fatalities last year. There are nearly 225,000 registered motorcycles in Minnesota, a record high.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) reports 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.

Cheri Marti, director of the DPS Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), said nearly half of all motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle.

Marti said that because motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles, it is more difficult to judge their speed and distance.

"Watch carefully for motorcycle riders this weekend, and expect to see them throughout the summer and well into fall," said Marti.