BEND, OR -- The Oregon Department of Transportation reports a dramatic jump in traffic fatalities this year, compared to 2014. According to statistics obtained by KBND, the state has seen a 44% increase in fatal crashes, so far this year.
ODOT’s Peter Murphy tells KBND he’s most concerned by the 15% rise in motorcycle fatalities. "It may be due to, just overall volume of motorcycles is up. We’re enjoying this great weather so people are getting outside and getting into it. But, we haven’t been able to pin down exactly why it is. What we’re trying to do is say ‘hey, anybody on, near or by a motorcycle, just use a little extra caution.’"
There have been nine motorcycle fatalities so far this month, alone, compared to five during the same timeframe last year. Murphy says it's unclear why this month has spiked. "We don’t know why you left the road, we just know you did. There’s some physics involved, and speed is one of the elements of the physics. So, let’s try to keep our heads on and take it easier as we try to get around. It’s a beautiful place to go out – Highway 206, Highway 31 - There are so many places to go on a bike around here. Let’s just ratchet it down a little bit, be a little bit more careful heading into those turns and let’s see what we can do." He adds, "And, it’s so easy. It seems like you’re out there all alone on the road, and you are in many of our places, and you just hit that turn a little bit too hard, too fast and there’s no margin at that point. You don’t have two more wheels to bring it back onto the pavement."
ODOT reports a total of 237 traffic-related deaths since the beginning of the year.