Motorcycle fatalities continue to claim dozens of lives each year in Utah, prompting renewed pleas by the state Department of Public Safety for increased motorist awareness and rider safety training.
Traffic fatality statistics show there were 31 motorcycle rider deaths on Utah roads in 2013, down just one from the previous year’s toll of 32. Speed, operator error and motorists’ failure to yield remained primary factors in the fatal accidents; motorcyclists’ speed determined to be a critical factor in 15, or roughly half of the deaths.
Only 12, or 39 percent, of the riders who died on the roads in 2013 were wearing helmets, DPS noted.
Of the 31 motorcyclist deaths in 2013, 30 of them involved crashes — 14 of them with other vehicles and 16 involving only the motorcycle. Eleven crashes involved a motorcycle colliding with a car or truck — with six of those caused by a motorist failing to yield or making an improper turn; three were motorcycles hitting each other; and one fatal crash occurred with a motorcycle struck a deer.
DPS found that the average age of motorcyclists killed in 2013 was 46.5; the youngest rider killed was 19; the oldest was 85.
In releasing its findings, DPS offered these suggestions to motorists and riders alike to make 2014 a less deadly year for motorcyclists:
— Skills Training. Riders should sign up for a motorcycle rider skills training classes to sharpen their abilities to detect, avoid and manage hazards. Courses are available through the Utah Motorcycle Rider Education program and course schedules and providers can be found here: http://utahmotorcyclesafety.com.
— Gear. Wear all personal protective gear, most importantly a Department of Transportation-approved helmet. Helmet use is proven to save lives and reduce injuries. Find more information by visiting this website: http://publicsafety.utah.gov/highwaysafety/motorcycle2.html.
— Riding season is upon us. Motorcyclists are out earlier than usual in Utah this year due to mild winter conditions and early, springlike weather. DPS urges motorists to “look for and see motorcycles.” Check your vehicle’s blind spots; don’t tailgate motorcycles, which can stop faster than your car; and exercise extra caution in intersections, where many motorcyclists are hit while making turns.