It has been a dangerous week of Chicago area motorcycle crashes as a string of collisions have the claimed the lives of five people.
A 37 year-old woman was killed in Dolton, Illinois after a man driving a Ford SUV failed to yield to her before taking a left turn, causing her to collide into the SUV. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the motorist involved in SUV vs. motorcycle crash, who was driving with his 16 year-old nephew, exited his vehicle, removed his license plate, and attempted to leave the scene after the accident. A group of residents were able to restrain the man until police arrived, however, and he was soon placed under arrest.
According to 2008 nationwide statistics from the NSTSA, these types of accidents, where an automobile driver taking a left turn fails to yield to an oncoming motorcyclist, accounted for 41% of all fatal accidents involving a motorcycle and another car. This type of collision is particularly dangerous because the rider’s momentum continues as their vehicle comes to a sudden halt, resulting in them being launched headfirst into the street at a high velocity.
In another incident, a 26 year-old man and a 23 year-old woman were killed in Wheeling after the motorcycle they were riding lost control and struck a utility box. The Chicago Daily Herald is reporting that prior to the crash, Buffalo Grove police attempted to pull over the man and his passenger after they sped away from a gas station on the 200 block of Milwaukee Avenue. After seeing the officer’s emergency lights, the pair sped away at what was described as a high rate of speed. As is protocol, the officer did not pursue the riders and alerted the Wheeling police that a speeding motorcycle was headed their way.
Soon after, at about 3:07 a.m., Wheeling police responded to a crash at the intersection of Milwaukee Road and Center Avenue where the riders were found dead. It appears that the riders, who were not wearing helmets at the time, were traveling at a right rate of speed when the driver lost control. Police are still working on reconstructing exactly how the crash occurred.
The Chicago Tribune reported on two other accidents where motorcyclists were killed as well. The first occurred in Glenview, Illinois when a 26 year-old man failed to obey a stop sign on Magnolia Street before attempting a left turn onto East Lake Avenue. A driver traveling eastbound down the center lane struck the rider, who was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead. The other accident reported in the Tribune involved a 51 year-old man who died after rear-ending a car on the Dan Ryan expressway and losing control of his vehicle.
Summers are traditionally a dangerous time for riders in Illinois. After the long winter, motorcyclists come out in droves to take advantage of the state’s warm weather and lack of mandatory helmet laws. In fact, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, the number of registered motorcycles in Illinois has risen 76% since 1999 to go along with the 26% increase in fatalities during that same period.
While motorcyclists cannot control the negligence of automobile drivers on the road, there are a number of things they can do to hopefully reduce their injuries:
• WEAR A HELMET! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that wearing a helmet saved the lives of 1,829 riders in 2008
• Drive defensively and do not assume other drivers can see you or are aware of your presence. The NHTSA reports that the majority of multiple-vehicle motorcycle accidents happen because the motorist does not see the rider
• Make sure your lights are functioning so people can see you
• Don’t drive too fast. Even experienced riders can lose control