Drivers reminded of motorcycle safety as upswing in fatal collisions seen in 2020

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As motorcycle season shifts into top gear, drivers are reminded to be aware of bikes on the road.

Marty Forbes, of the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society (AMSS) said every year they adapt their public service campaign to what was seen the year before and in 2020, there seemed to be more inexperienced drivers on the road.

“All of the training centres shut down, and as well, the government structure for registering your bike and getting your licence all either shut down or were really, really hard to get into,” Forbes said.

“Motorcycles were the last priority and of course you only have half a year to do it, if that.”

It also appeared that more bikes were being bought last year.

“Here we have guys with money in their hands that buy new bikes — and I’m blaming guys because it’s mostly us — and here they are when spring comes with all this pent up energy,” Forbes said.

“They’re going out on the road, either illegally, because they’re supposed to ride with a Class 6 (licence) guy, or with somebody and not properly trained, and you can kill yourself really, really quickly just not knowing some of the basics.”

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Forbes said 21 people died in motorcycle collisions last year — 20 were drivers and one was a passenger. Seventy per cent of those were single-vehicle collisions with alleged causes of speeding, stunting and loss of control.

“That’s a bit of an anomaly because it’s usually cars running into motorcycles at left turns and tragic collisions like that,” Forbes said.

In comparison, there were 11 fatalities in 2019 and 16 fatalities in 2018.

The AMSS officially launches its public service campaign for this year on May 2 at 11 a.m. with a Zoom fireside chat. AMSS President Liane Langlois will be joined by experts on topics like motorcycle safety, rules and regulations, and equipment.

Forbes said one of the most common causes of collisions with motorcyclists is when drivers take a left hand turn. He said the brain will often register a larger vehicle behind the motorcyclist and will drive into them thinking the way is clear.

Distracted driving also causes collisions with people on their phones waiting at intersections.

“If there’s a motorcycle in front of you and on the left hand side or right hand side of the car, if somebody starts moving, and you’re on that cell phone, you have a tendency to put your foot on the gas and then look up,” Forbes said. “That’s when bikers are getting hit from behind and push right into intersections.”

RCMP are also reminding drivers to share the road safely with motorcycles.

On April 9, at about 6:40 p.m., St. Albert RCMP responded to their first collision involving a motorcycle of the season on Lester Crescent. The motorcyclist was cut off by a truck, hit the curb and fell off the bike onto the road. They sustained non-life-threatening injuries and were transported to hospital.

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“Motorcycle crashes peak in the summer as warmer weather and conditions bring more riders onto the road,” RCMP said in a news release. “Motorcycles are smaller than passenger vehicles, harder to see and do not offer the protection of a frame, seatbelts or airbags.”

Tips for drivers to prevent a crash with a motorcyclist include scanning intersections and looking for motorcycles when turning left, staying alert and keeping eyes on the road, and have a following distance of at least three or four seconds behind a motorcycle.

Meanwhile, motorcyclists should practice emergency braking and obstacle avoidance, staying out of drivers’ blind spots, use signals and ride at a safe speed.

ajunker@postmedia.com

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