Ask A Trooper: What’s the fine for not stopping when school bus red lights are activated?

Question:  As we are ending the motorcycle season, I heard of an individual near Rochester who was killed by going off the road and struck a sign head-on. He was not wearing a helmet. Being an individual who has been in a motorcycle accident with the helmet likely saving my life, why are helmets not required in the state of Minnesota for all two- and three-wheel bikes?

Answer:  In my law enforcement career, I investigated far too many serious injury and fatal motorcycle crashes where a helmet could have made a difference. 

There is no helmet law in Minnesota, unless the operator is under 18 years of age or is operating with a permit. Even though there is no helmet law, it is recommended that one is worn to help prevent death or serious injury.

The benefits helmets offer are clear – they protect the head in the event of a crash. In 2018, only sixteen (28%) of the 58 motorcycle riders killed were known to be wearing a helmet. Of the 913 motorcyclists injured, only 416 (46%) were known to be wearing a helmet.

In 2018, 550 (55%) motorcycle crashes were single-vehicle crashes. In these crashes, the factors that reporting officers list most often are run off road (14%), careless/negligent/erratic driving (13%) and driver speeding (9%).

Just under half of all motorcycle crashes involve a collision with another vehicle. In many crashes, the driver never saw the motorcyclist – or did not see the rider until it was too late. It is important for everyone to pay attention and avoid all distractions while driving. We need to be 100% attentive when driving any type of motor vehicle. 

My advice is to always wear an approved helmet as it can and will reduce your chances of being seriously injured or killed. 

Sgt. Neil Dickenson is Minnesota State Patrol Public Information Officer for the state’s northeast region. Send questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues to neil.dickenson@state.mn.us or by mail to Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth MN 55811. Follow Dickenson on Twitter at @MSPPIO_NE. 

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