A Scarborough crash on Wednesday marked the twenty second bike fatality of the yr, surpassing 2021’s complete tally of 21 fatalities, a development that’s alarming public security officers.
“That’s lots of people dying from bike crashes,” stated Lauren Stewart, director of the state Bureau of Freeway Security. “And there’s nonetheless loads of driving season left.”
Practically 6 p.c of motorbike crashes have resulted in loss of life to this point this yr, a fee that’s far outpacing any yr of the previous decade. The following worse yr for fatalities was 2015, when 4.8 p.c of motorbike crashes resulted in fatalities. In 2013 and 2014, the fatality charges had been 1.7 p.c and 1.6 p.c respectively.
Bikes solely account for two.9 p.c of car registrations, based on information from the Bureau of Motor Autos, however bike crashes have accounted for 22.7 p.c of all deadly crashes this yr, based on the freeway bureau.
Whereas the share of motorbike crashes ending in loss of life has been greater this yr, there appears to be no consensus on why. Stewart speculated that there could be extra motorcyclists on the highway due to excessive gasoline costs, with operators preferring to drive a fuel-efficient bike somewhat than a automotive, resulting in extra crashes.
However, she stated, the vast majority of this yr’s crashes look like the bike operator’s error, equivalent to crossing the middle line, making an attempt to face up on the seat, and in a single case, getting into the freeway within the unsuitable course.
In response to the Bureau of Freeway Security, pace was a doable contributing consider eight of the deaths and in 5 instances, the bike operator had a blood alcohol content material better than .08 p.c, the authorized threshold for working below the affect in Maine. The victims had been all male besides one, and on common round 50 years previous.
“Most of the time, we’ve seen crashes involving one other motorized vehicle, the place the automotive’s turning and had not seen the motorcyclists,” Stewart stated. “However that’s not what we’re seeing this yr. We’re simply seeing reckless driving on the a part of the motorcyclists.”
John Kohler, bike security program coordinator for the BMV, stated bikes speed up sooner than automobiles do and might extra simply drive at greater charges of pace.
“Velocity is one thing that could be a entice for motorcyclists as a result of it’s enjoyable,” Kohler stated. “However the issue is that now your response time is diminished since you’re going to go a better distance earlier than you possibly can react to a scenario.”
Dave Edwards, a technician at a bike restore store, stated bike fashions are safer than they had been 10 to fifteen years in the past, with higher braking methods and tires. He stated he thinks crashes are principally attributable to inexperience on the a part of the motorcyclists and inattention by different drivers on the highway.
“In the event that they’re barely inexperienced with a barely heavier bike, a bit of bit an excessive amount of energy, and you’ve got a distracted driver, it’s a nasty mixture,” stated Edwards, who works at Phoenix Cycle Store in Westbrook.
Edwards stated about 20 years in the past, he was driving his bike on Route 1 in Scarborough and acquired pushed off the highway as a result of the dump truck behind him didn’t see him when two lanes had been merging into one.
Kohler stated he thinks there’s some peer stress concerned with not feeling the necessity to put on protecting gear, however that driving a bike is inherently harmful and protecting gear, equivalent to a helmet, leather-based jacket, lengthy pants, full-finger gloves and over-the-ankle footwear, might be life-saving.
“If you’re in a crash, it actually doesn’t matter whose fault it’s,” Kohler stated. “The one factor you could have going for you at that time is the gear that you’ve on.”
In 2013, Kohler was thrown off his bike and rolled 100 ft on an interstate in Ohio, struggling a punctured lung, bruised liver, damaged shoulder and arm and a concussion. His helmet and leather-based jacket, he stated, saved his life.
Kohler stated he doesn’t have any recollection of the occasion, however discovered from witness accounts that he ran over one thing within the highway that reduce his entrance tire and the bike began wobbling, then went arduous to the appropriate and hit a automotive, which spun 180 levels.
“When you’ve been in a bike crash, and also you see how the gear can shield you, it’s a no brainer,” he stated.
Kohler stated he has additionally began sporting a reflective vest to assist others see him on the highway.
“I’m driving a large huge white bike … couldn’t be any extra seen, (however) folks had been pulling out in entrance of me left and proper,” Kohler stated. “I began sporting this excessive visibility vest and that stopped. So I’ve had guys inform me, ‘Hey, that doesn’t look cool.’ … I’m making an attempt to get house alive, not look cool.”
Kohler stated a giant a part of it’s adjusting your perspective to be extra safety-minded and making accountable selections; for instance, planning forward when alcohol is concerned. Alcohol, he stated, impacts stability in a giant approach.
“Folks don’t need to hear about, you recognize, ‘be secure,’ and all that stuff. They give attention to the enjoyable a part of it,” Kohler stated. “In case you simply take a minute and take into consideration the folks round you, and your loved ones and whatnot, how will you be a bit of extra accountable to people who you like to make a better option?”
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