This year’s spike in motorcyclist deaths statewide continues to climb with the deaths of two men killed in separate accidents during the past two days.

July has been especially deadly this year, with 18 motorcyclists killed this month. That total has pushed the number of motorcyclists killed so far this year to 39, compared to 24 riders killed by this time in 2012.

The last time so many motorcyclists were killed in a month was August 2008, when 21 died.

The rise in motorcyclist deaths this year is contributing to a surge in overall traffic fatalities, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

So far this year, 203 people have died in traffic fatalities, including two bicyclists and eight pedestrians. That compares to 175 fatalities reported for the same period last year.

At this rate, state public safety officials project the state could end the year with about 450 traffic fatalities, making it the second consecutive year for an increase in annual traffic deaths. Last year, 395 people died on Minnesota roads, up from 368 who died in 2011.

In the most recent death, 73-year-old Sherwin W. Johnson of Lindstrom was killed Monday when the driver of a vehicle attempted to make an illegal U-turn at the intersection of Hwy. 8 and John Silver Road in Chisago County, according to the Minnesota State Patrol. Johnson was not wearing a helmet.

Johnson was broadsided by a vehicle driven by Alissa Nollan, 25, of Columbia Heights.

She suffered no apparent injuries, the State Patrol reported. Caleb Buecksler, 30, of Columbia Heights, a passenger in the car, reportedly suffered noncritical injuries.

In a separate accident on Sunday, James A. Davey, 55, of Eveleth, Minn., was killed when his motorcycle collided with a pickup truck on the Iron Range. Davey was not wearing a helmet.

According to the patrol:

Davey was heading north about 2:45 p.m. toward Eveleth on Hwy. 53 and struck the front of a pickup crossing in his path on Bodas Road. The pickup driver, Jesse R. Hiti, 20, reportedly was not hurt. 612-673-4788 612-673-4482