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North Dakota, Minnesota motorcycle fatalities running far ahead of 2021

At least 73 motorcyclists have been killed in crashes in Minnesota so far this year, while 16 have died in such crashes in North Dakota.

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FARGO — The numbers of motorcycle riders killed in crashes on roads and highways in both North Dakota and Minnesota this year have already exceeded totals for all of last year — with weeks to go in the riding season.

As of Sept. 13, crashes had killed 16 motorcyclists in North Dakota, compared with 7 motorcycle fatalities at the same date last year and 15 by this date in 2020.

Total yearly motorcycle deaths in North Dakota were 8 last year, 17 in 2020 and 11 in 2019, according to the state public safety program Vision Zero.

The Fargo area had three deadly motorcycle crashes in late June, pushing the total statewide to at least nine at the time to surpass the previous year's total fatalities.

The fatal crashes happened June 29 on Interstate 94 outside of West Fargo, June 26 on South University Drive in Fargo and June 24 on Interstate 29.

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The most recent North Dakota motorcycle fatality happened Sept. 13 in Williston, when 18-year-old William Chamley was driving a motorcycle that struck a vehicle turning out of a private driveway.

Chamley, of Williston, was not wearing a helmet and was pronounced dead at a hospital, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said. The driver of the vehicle had minor injuries.

A Williston police officer said Chamley was fleeing, but they had ended their pursuit about a minute before the crash, which is under investigation by the highway patrol.

The Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety reported Thursday, Sept. 15, that preliminary counts show 73 motorcycle riders have died in crashes on Minnesota roads this year.

That compares to 55 at the same time last year, and 67 for all of 2021.

The toll for this year is already higher than any full year since 1985, according to figures published by the Department of Public Safety.

There were at least four fatal motorcycle crashes in Minnesota the previous week alone.

The Minnesota State Patrol is asking drivers to pay extra attention to motorcyclists — including looking twice before making turns or changing lanes — and giving riders plenty of room.

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Safety tips for motorcycle riders include wearing a helmet and other safety gear, avoiding drinking and riding, and using extra caution on curves.

About a third of motorcycle fatalities in Minnesota this year have happened while riders were attempting to negotiate a curve. About two-thirds involved riders who were not wearing a helmet.

MPR News reporters Tim Nelson and Andrew Krueger contributed to this story.

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