Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on how three motorcycle fatalities over the weekend added a grim underscore to the safety awareness message officials are promoting at a series of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month events kicking off this week. Washington lost one motorcyclist over the same weekend, the first sunny, warm one of the spring.
“Three in one weekend – it’s attention-grabbing, it’s tragic, it’s terrible for those riders and their families,” said Stacey “Ax” Axmaker, director of the Idaho STAR Motorcycle Safety Program. “But that kind of thing does happen.” Idaho saw 22 fatal motorcycle accidents in 2012; Washington had 83. In both states, the main cause of fatal motorcycle accidents is now rider error, as opposed to motorists in cars or trucks who fail to notice the cyclists. So safety messages are stressing not only awareness for motorists, who may find motorcycles hard to see, but preparation and safety for motorcycle riders themselves.
Will Stoy, an Idaho STAR instructor and motorcycle officer for the Meridian Police Department, said in Idaho in 2012, 75 percent of motorcycle fatalities were attributable to rider error. Other numbers that might surprise people: 68 percent were riders over 40 years old, and 72 percent were on cruisers or large touring motorcycles. A third – 33 percent – involved impaired riders.
Stoy will join local law enforcement officials in Coeur d’Alene tomorrow night for a free public session on “How to avoid a ticket and survive a crash, taught by your local motor officers.” The session, at Coeur d’Alene’s Fire Station No. 3, 1500 N. 15thSt., will run from 6-8 p.m. Stoy has led similar sessions in the Treasure Valley, and promises, “We’ll be doing more of these.”