Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

April 3, 2013

Drivers must look for cycles

— ABATE of Indiana — the nonprofit motorcycle advocacy group — will offer classes on rider safety at Inventrek Technology Park, 700 E. Firmin St., beginning April 12. A schedule of classes can be found at abateofindiana.org.

But in 2010, just two days after we reported such classes wouldn’t be held in Kokomo that spring, a Swayzee cyclist was killed northeast of Greentown. Indiana State Police said a motorist in a pickup ran a stop sign at Howard County Roads 1350 East and 300 North, striking the motorcycle and its female rider.

“[The motorist] said he never saw her,” Trooper Randy McPike said after the fatal accident. “The skid marks indicate he did not stop at all.”

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 as outdoor temperatures continue to warm.

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