Fatal Motorcycle Crashes on the Rise in Ontario

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The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are urging motorcyclists and drivers to please exercise caution—and avoid high speeds and alcohol—after noticing a concerning uptick in fatal crashes involving motorcycles.

Recently, OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt took to Twitter to share some alarming stats surrounding a worrisome increase in motorcycle deaths on Ontario roads.

"We have looked at some stats recently that are kind of alarming for us. We've had 30 motorcycle riders who died in collisions in 2017," Schmidt said in a video posted to Twitter. "That is very alarming, considering last year, all year, we only had 36 [fatalities]."

Schmidt said that in previous years, the total number of motorcycle fatalities hovered in the low 30s. In the past few months, 30 riders have died—and riding season is far from over.

"Last year was the worst year we've had in the last decade and we've had 30 people die on motorcycles this year already and there's still a lot of riding season left," Schmidt said.

Although some have wondered if the abnormally rainy summer has had something to do with the uptick in fatal crashes, Schmidt said that, surprisingly, most fatal crashes—28 of the 30, in fact—occurred on dry roads on clear days. Schmidt also said that 18 of the victims were following road rules and driving properly when the collisions occurred. He also said the motorcycles themselves were in good condition and that crashes took place during daylight hours (when visibility would typically be less of an issue).

Schmidt says that of the 30 riders who have died so far this year, 27 were the drivers and three were passengers.

What's most interesting is the age of the average victim.

While some might expect younger riders to be more daring (and therefore more likely to be involved in a crash), the OPP says 10 of the riders were between 45 and 54 and seven were between 55 and 64.

"It's the older, middle-aged drivers that we're seeing involved in these collisions. Maybe that's because they are the highest representation of riders out on the roads, I'm not sure," says Schmidt. "They were all, to my knowledge, wearing a helmet and were all over the place in terms of highway conditions. You'd think a lot of these [crashes] are happening in intersections, but it's often straight lanes and straight roads and on curves and so on."

So, what's causing these collisions involving seemingly experienced drivers on dry roads in good conditions?

In six of the 30 cases, alcohol was a factor.

"The one thing I do want to highlight is that contributing factors were alcohol, speed, improper turns and inattentive drivers losing control—all preventable factors," said Schmidt. "If you're driving a vehicle or a motorcycle, we need to share the road together. As a motorcycle driver, you must be defensive, be alert and be visible to motorists around you. You have to be sure you're able to respond because they may not see you until it's too late."

Schmidt is asking both drivers and motorcyclists to exercise caution going forward.

"Let's not see these numbers continue. We've got a couple weekends left before it's back to school and back to work and back to routine, but there's a lot of riding season left."

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