With the riding season far from over, Minnesota already is on the verge of matching its motorcycle death toll for all of last year.

Three fatal crashes in a recent 36-hour span have pushed this year’s death tally for motorcycle riders to 44, according to the state’s Motorcycle Safety Center. There were 46 in all of 2014.

The latest death occurred early Monday evening in Waite Park, when a 23-year-old rider crashed near 7th Street S. and St. Andrews Drive, according to police.

Witnesses told police that Jesse L. Nelson, of Becker, was speeding, clipped the corner of a car traveling on 7th and lost control of the motorcycle. Nelson was not wearing a helmet, police said.

Late Sunday afternoon in Isanti County, a dirt bike collided with a pickup truck at County Road 5 and Feldspar Street NW., about 10 miles north of St. Francis, the Sheriff’s Office said. The motorcyclist, Dillon P. Anderson, 22, of Princeton, failed to observe a stop sign, authorities said. Anderson was wearing a helmet.

Early Sunday afternoon, a motorcyclist rear-ended an SUV as it slowed down in the left lane of eastbound Interstate 94 near Monticello, according to the State Patrol. The collision killed Steven M. Hanson, 59, of Alexandria. Hanson was not wearing a helmet, the patrol said. The two people in the SUV were not injured.

Of those killed on motorcycles so far this year, 29 were not wearing helmets, according to state data.

Helmet use by adult riders is not legally required, but the patrol recommends they be worn with other safety gear such as eyewear and protective clothing.

Paul Walsh