BEND, OR -- Oregon lost several motorcyclists last month, including another over the weekend, adding to the growing number of statewide traffic fatalities this year. A motorcycle rider is six times more likely to be killed in a crash than someone in a car.
Bill Rodgers, a safety instructor with Team Oregon, says it’s important that drivers are vigilant and look for motorcycles when changing lanes. "Motorcycles are harder to see; we’re smaller, it’s difficult to judge our approach speed. So, as a motorcyclist, it’s part of our mission to be seen, to be as visible as possible." He adds, "But, 75% of motorcycle accidents are caused by the motorcyclist."
Many of those crashes are the result of a rider failing to "negotiate a curve,” often due to speed. Rodgers tells KBND News, "Cornering skills are almost always built through training; you can’t get any better than what you know. Just because you have been riding a long time and you bring your bicycling experience to the motorcycle world, doesn’t mean you’re proficient at it. We can say ‘look through the turn’ and we can say it over and over again, but until you’ve done it, had someone watch you do it and give you that constructive criticism, it’s really difficult to make it part of your riding experience."
Rodgers says more motorcycles hit the road during summer because of nice weather, which will likely bring more crashes. "At this time, we’re about even with our fatality and accident history from last year; it’s just that it’s more apparent, right now. One thing I would like to point out is that Oregon has one of the lowest fatality rates per capita in the nation." Oregon is also one of only a handful of states to require riders to take safety training before receiving their endorsement. Team Oregon
is a joint effort between Oregon State University and ODOT, offering that mandatory safety training. They also provide refresher courses for experienced riders.