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Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Jeff Grimmius, Worthington, rides his 2006 Suzuki motorcycle down Oxford Street in Worthington.

Motorcycle safety is the responsibility of riders and vehicle drivers

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WORTHINGTON -- Some things happen every spring. The weather gets warmer, the grass gets greener and the motorcycle riders get itching to jump on their bikes and hit the road.

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There's nothing like cruising down the open road with the wind in your face.

But there is also a danger.

With three motorcyclists in the state of Minnesota killed in a five day period, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety is reinforcing basic safety tips for riders and motorists during the warm-weather riding season.

On May 7, a 52-year-old man lost control of his motorcycle and hit a guard rail in Scott County.

Three days later, a 62-year-old woman died when the trike she was a passenger aboard hit a curb in Scott County, ejecting her from the vehicle.

She flew out and collided with a street sign.

The driver of the vehicle was trapped under the trike in the center of the roundabout.

On May 11, a 56-year-old man in southeast Rochester was killed when his motorcycle crashed with a car.

Motorcycle deaths dropped 15 percent in 2010, which the DPS attributes to more riders getting trained and gaining experience.

More than 25,000 riders have been trained in the last three years.

Basic riding courses are available through Minnesota West Community and Technical College, as is a motorized bicycle (moped) course and an experienced rider course. For the basic course, the curriculum is supplied by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

The experienced rider course covers perception and hazard awareness, riding strategy, traction and risk management.

While motorcyclists need to be aware of the hazards of the road, motorists need to be aware of the motorcyclists.

Safety tips for drivers in regard to sharing the roads with motorcyclists include anticipating the bikes in traffic and allowing them plenty of room to avoid surface hazards.

Always use turn signals to indicate intentions and look twice -- motorcycles are smaller, and can be more difficult to spot in traffic.

According to the DPS, there are currently more than 225,000 motorcycles owned in the state of Minnesota, and officials say the spike in gas prices may result in even more people shifting to riding a motorcycle, motorized bike or scooter.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation states the cause of many motorcycle crashes can be attributed to a lack of riding skills, a failure to appreciate the inherent operating characteristics and limitations of a motorcycle and a lack of use of defensive driving techniques and braking and cornering skills.

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