Motorcycle fatalities on rise

Saving a life can be as simple as wearing a helmet or being a defensive driver. In the past month five area motorcycl
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Saving a life can be as simple as wearing a helmet or being a defensive driver.

In the past month five area motorcyclists have died in crashes. The two most recent were a Sandusky man who died June 14 in a three-vehicle crash at Bogart Road and Ohio 4, and a Green Springs woman who died the next day when a car ran a stop sign, hitting her motorcycle.

Only three total motorcycle fatalities were recorded in Erie County from 2003 to 2007, said Lt. Darryl Edge of the Sandusky post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Three of the five area fatalities this year were in Erie County.

While it's hard to say why the fatality count is up, there are ways to keep those numbers from increasing any more, Edge said.

Twenty states require all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Ohio is not one of them.

"I would love to see more helmets," Edge said. "It's life insurance."

Under Ohio law novice motorcycle riders are required to wear a helmet and may only ride during daytime for one year.

After that they can ride without a helmet but must have eye protection, as required for all passengers.

Not doing so can result in a ticket. A citation for no eye protection -- a minor misdemeanor -- is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine. Drivers of larger vehicles also need to take precautions on the road.

With gas prices topping $4 a gallon, there is a good chance more people will be riding motorcycles this summer for transportation, Edge said.

"Our thought is there is going to be a lot more motorcycles out there," he said.

"Motorcycle riders need to drive defensively and be aware people in cars may not see them."

In 2007 there were 33 injury motorcycle crashes in Erie County, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Statewide 190 motorcycle fatalities were reported.

"The crashes that occurred so far this year were easily preventable," Edge said.

"They were all caused by some type of driver error."

So far in 2008 statewide there have been 758 motorcycle crashes, said Julie Ehrhart, spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Thirty-two people have died as a result. An education course on motorcycle riding is offered by the state. For more information visit http://motorcycle.ohio.gov/