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A deadly summer for motorcyclists

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Compared with 2011 and 2012, motorcycle crashes and fatalities are down in Virginia so far this year.

But it’s been a deadly two months for motorcyclists in the Fredericksburg region. Since June, seven people have died in six crashes in the area.

All told, nine have died in regional motorcycle crashes so far this year, according to statistics from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Seven died in regional motorcycle crashes the past two years combined.

The causes in the recent rash of deadly motorcycle crashes are mixed.

Virginia State Police Sgt. Les Tyler pointed out that car drivers have been the culprits in some of the recent motorcycle crashes.

Two of the motorcyclists lost control of their bikes and crashed. Three of the crashes were caused by drivers in cars. The cause in one of the crashes is still undetermined.

Three of this year’s motorcycle crashes in the region involved alcohol, said DMV spokeswoman Sunni Blevins Brown. She said it wasn’t clear whether the motorcyclists had consumed alcohol or the other driver.

One of the recent fatal crashes, on June 24, was a hit-and-run in which authorities said a van rear-ended a 1988 Kawasaki 1000 motorcycle at the intersection of Zachary Taylor Highway (U.S. 522) and Days Bridge Road near Lake Anna, killing Spotsylvania County residents Oneal F. Newman, 50, and his passenger, 53-year-old Joyce A. Herriot.

Kenneth G. Wadford, 30, of Cumberland County, was later arrested.

Although motorcyclists weren’t at fault in some of the recent crashes, Virginia safety advocates and some in the motorcycle community see at least one correlation in the fatal wrecks: a lack of driver safety training.

In this year’s deadly accidents not caused by other vehicles, Brown said the crashes have primarily happened because of motorcyclists following other vehicles too closely or losing control of their bikes.

“We do believe that there is a correlation between motorcycle crashes and riders who haven’t taken safety training; however, that information is anecdotal,” said Brown. “We are very interested in that correlation and believe we will have data to showcase that within the next couple of years.”

Motorcycle driver safety training is not required, but the DMV encourages the courses, which are offered throughout the state.

Another corollary is that summer is a popular time of year for motorcyclists to ride. Plus, motorcycle popularity has grown in recent years in Virginia and nationwide.

More than 196,600 motorcycles were registered statewide during the last fiscal year. That’s an increase from the 189,383 registered in the previous fiscal year.

Nationwide in 2011—the most recent year for which National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics are available—more than 8.4 million motorcycles were registered. In 2002, there were just more than 5 million registered motorcycles nationwide.

“There are more motorcycles out this time of year,” Virginia State Police Sgt. Les Tyler said. “Drivers need to be more aware.”

Motorcycle driving training: dmvnow.com/drivers/#m_course.html

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

 

DEADLY TWO MONTHS

Seven people have died in six motorcycle crashes in the Fredericksburg region since June 17.

June 17: Duaine Sorensen, 53, of Fredericksburg died after losing control of his motorcycle and crashing on Falcon Drive in Spotsylvania County.

June 24: A van struck the rear of a 1988 Kawasaki 1000 motorcycle at the intersection of Zachary Taylor Highway (U.S. 522) and Days Bridge Road near Lake Anna, killing Spotsylvania residents Oneal F. Newman, 50, and his passenger, 53-year-old Joyce A. Herriot. Kenneth G. Wadford of Cumberland County was later arrested.

July 27: Daniel Ray Patrick, 73, of Locust Grove, died after a Jeep Liberty crossed into his path and hit his motorcycle on State Route 20 in Orange County. The crash remains under investigation.

Aug. 3: Judy Harlow Moubray, 51, of Gordonsville was riding on a motorcycle her husband was driving when a Geo Prism pulled into their path at the intersection of U.S. 33 and State Route 678 in Orange County. She died at the scene. The Prism’s driver was charged with reckless driving.

Aug. 11: Michael Brown, 42, of King George, died after his motorcycle ran into a tractor–trailer turning across U.S. 1 in Thornburg. The crash remains under investigation.

Aug. 20: A 47-year-old Suffolk man died after losing control of his motorcycle at the U.S. 1 and Arcadia Road intersection in Spotsylvania. The motorcycle hit a stop sign, veered through a parking lot and rammed into a parked pickup.

 

 

 

 

 

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