Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

July 18, 2013

Watch out for cycles

One hundred fifty-two motorcycle and mo-ped riders died in Indiana crashes last year. In 2011, there were 118 total deaths involving a motorcycle or mo-ped. Indiana Criminal Justice Institute officials said the number of cyclist deaths in 2012 was the highest the state had seen in 30 years.

A recent rash of area motorcycle accidents makes us wonder whether last year’s spike was just an anomaly.

Friday afternoon, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy was killed on Ind. 13 in northern Madison County after a motorist made a left-hand turn into the path of the deputy’s motorcycle.

About 9 a.m. Monday, a 19-year-old motorcyclist was injured at the intersection of Kokomo’s Washington and Hoffer streets. A motorist in an SUV pulled into the cyclist’s path, police said.

It’s an all-too-familiar story. Motorcycle accidents usually are caused by drivers of cars and trucks — and nearly all result in injury to the cyclist, according to a 1981 study.

With funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, researcher Harry Hunt of the University of Southern California investigated 900 motorcycle accidents and 3,600 accident reports involving motorcycles in the Los Angeles area. Hunt found:

• About 75 percent of motorcycle accidents involved a collision with another vehicle.

• In 66 percent of those collisions, another vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident.

• Failure of drivers to see motorcycles was the predominating cause of the accidents.

• Intersections were the most likely place for the motorcycle accident, with the other vehicles violating the motorcycle right-of-way.

• The likelihood of injury was extremely high in these motorcycle accidents. Ninety-eight percent of accidents with another vehicle resulted in some kind of injury to the motorcycle operator.

It’s clear drivers must be alert to the presence of cyclists. Expect to see them at all times. Allow mo-peds and motorcycles as much space as a car when passing them. And be particularly aware of cyclists at intersections.

Motorcyclists are 21 times more likely as those traveling in a passenger car to die in a traffic accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Look for them while on the road.

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