There haven’t been any motorcycle fatalities in Kitsap County so far this year, and local law enforcement officers are hoping to keep it that way.
Kitsap County saw three motorcycle fatalities last year and one fatality in 2010.
“Normally, there are about 70 per year (statewide),” said Washington State Patrol Spokesman Dan Coon. “As summer goes on, we usually see more and more. Unfortunately we’re entering the busy part of the season, or deadly part of the season, which is June, July, August and into September.”
So far in 2012 there have been 13 motorcycle fatalities with 11 of those caused by the rider and not another vehicle in Washington state. This is a similar trend law enforcement has seen over the past several years where the majority of motorcycle collisions were caused by rider error.
“It’s no longer an excuse to blame the other driver,” said Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste. “It’s the responsibility of the rider to take the steps to ride safe, not drink and drive, and know your riding ability.”
During the weekend of May 4 to 6 alone, there were three fatality motorcycle collisions on Washington roadways. Troopers say that all three collisions occurred due to rider error.
Just because the majority of motorcycle fatalities are caused by the rider, all motorists have the responsibility to be alert and aware of motorcycles around them, according to state patrol officials. By taking the extra time to check your blind spots prior to making a lane change, allowing for extra following distance, and being aware of approaching motorcycles, drivers will be able to avoid potential collisions.
“All motorists, regardless of what they are driving, need to look carefully for motorcyclists, respect their safety, and share the road,” said Batiste.
The state patrol has offered several tips motorcyclists and motorists can use to stay safe on local roadways.
Troopers note that the single biggest cause of motorcycle fatalities in Washington is excessive speed and inexperience or drivers exceeding their skill level. In addition, speed reduces reaction time and increases the seriousness of injuries.
“The two groups that have the most trouble are young riders on high powered bikes, and older riders who lack the appropriate training,” Coon said. “The young kids are riding at speeds way above their skill level, and the older riders are taking up the hobby without investing in safety classes.”
Coon said that all riders would benefit from approved motorcycle safety classes since they teach you how to recognize a collision developing while there is still time to avoid it.
Coon said that the safety of motorcycle riders remains overwhelmingly in the hands of riders themselves. But, Coon added, “Automobile drivers still need to share the road. Drivers need to be alert and aware of motorcyclists around them.”