Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Spike in deadly crashes mars weekend

Motorcycle, ATV collisions claim 7

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A man was transported to hospital after his motorcycle hit a van on Henderson Highway at Larsen Avenue on Monday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

A man was transported to hospital after his motorcycle hit a van on Henderson Highway at Larsen Avenue on Monday. Photo Store

Warm weather. The hunger to hit the open road. Carelessness. Throw in some alcohol and unfamiliarity.

All factors that usually conspire to cause motorcycle accidents -- but not at the horrific rate now being experienced in Manitoba.

Over the last weekend alone, there were six fatalities involving motorcycles across the province. The yearly average is four for motorcycles.

There have already been five fatalities in Manitoba due to ATV/dirt bike accidents. The yearly average is five deaths involving ATV/dirt bikes.

And it's only early July.

Another motorcyclist went to hospital with unknown injuries Monday evening after crashing on Henderson Highway at Larsen Avenue.

He hit the back of a van that was stopped at a crosswalk, said Travis Clark-Antonio, who was crossing the street in his wheelchair at the time.

"We saw the motorcycle go out of control," said Clark-Antonio, who reckoned the motorcyle was approaching the crosswalk too fast. "His bike hit the edge of the van, and he went feet first under the van. He had a helmet on but it came off."

Police are alarmed by this weekend's tragedies.

"It is concerning," noted RCMP spokesman Miles Hiebert. "In some cases, driver error is to blame, in others, excess speed, or motorists not watching for motorcycles.

"As well, with off-road vehicles, the main contributing factors in fatal collisions are people riding too fast or beyond their capabilities, not wearing helmets and operating off-road vehicles while impaired. It is important to ride within your capabilities, always wear a helmet and never drink and drive."

The sixth death was reported Monday: a man on a Harley-Davidson died Saturday afternoon after he was thrown from a motorcycle on Highway 3, just east of La Riviere. An RCMP investigation concluded that the 75-year-old man lost control while riding westbound with a group of other riders, and was thrown from the motorcycle. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the incident.

In addition to the motorcycle deaths, a Winnnipeg man died in an off-road ATV accident in the RM of Portage la Prairie on Saturday around 10 p.m. after he drove into some irrigation equipment.

"It's an unfortunate spike in the statistics," said Manitoba Public Insurance spokesman Brian Smiley, who added that, on average, there are about 140 collisions involving motorcycles each year.

"The worst fatalities, not surprisingly, are in July," Smiley added. "Warm. Long daylight hours. A lot of them (riders) are out putting miles on their bikes. It's not any different than snowmobilers in November and December."

Smiley said that while a "motorcycle itself is not a dangerous vehicle", if a collision happens "somebody is going to get hurt."

"If they get in a crash there's not a ton of steel protecting them," Smiley added.

However, motorcycle insurance rates have fallen for three consecutive years through MPI, Smiley said, including a request for premiums to drop 7.6 per cent in 2014. Rates fell 0.2 per cent in 2013 and 10.3 percent in 2012 due to the drop in collision frequency. "That's reflected in our rates," Smiley said.

According to a Traffic Injury Research Foundation study released in 2011, a motorcyclist is four times more likely to be injured in a collision and 14 times more likely to be killed than is the occupant of a vehicle.

The foundation says motorcycles are simply not as often seen on the roads compared with other types of vehicles, so they are also less likely to be expected in moving traffic, and are more difficult for other drivers to detect.

 

-- with files from Nick Martin

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 16, 2013 A3

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Updated on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 6:37 AM CDT: replaces photo

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