Motorcycle crashes spike in Delaware

DOVER — More wheels on the road, increased deathly crashes.
Speed was the top factor contributing to six fatal motorcycle incidents this month through Monday. Potential alcohol use and impairment were investigated as well.

All of the fatals involved bikers under age 42.

Cell phone texting, DVDs and GPS availability create more chance of motorist distraction, but accountability falls on riders to decrease perils.

“You have to take responsibility, you have to be constantly engaged with your surroundings and don’t assume every other vehicle can see you,” Diamond Motor Sports General Manager Stewart Crouch said.

There’s a time and place for cruising down the road on two wheels, but not on the highway.

“On nice country roads surrounded by clear fields you can enjoy the scenery,” Mr. Crouch said. “Motorcycles don’t stand out as well as motor vehicles do when together in traffic so the rider must pay special attention to what’s around them.”

According to Mr. Crouch, helmet sales have risen noticeably the past two months, complete with enhanced head impact absorptions and liner material that pivots with the head when struck.

Still, helmets and cutting edge safety wear have limitations .

“Helmets like in the sports world will only protect so much,” said A to Z Cycles co-owner Melissa Cornwell.

“Wearing a suit of course is safer, but if you go down on asphalt at a high rate of speed it’s going to cause major issues anyway.”

No matter what, motorcycles (nearly 22,000 registered in Delaware) are greatly outweighed and less protective than motor vehicles.

Helmets for sale at Diamond Motor Sports.

“In a car, people feel like they’re in an iron tank, but motorcyclists are far more vulnerable out there,” Ms. Cornwell said.

This week, the Delaware Office of Highway Safety, Delaware State Police, Delaware Department of Transportation, and AAA Mid-Atlantic launched a joint campaign to increase public awareness during a dangerous surge in crashes.

“Throughout the year especially during this time when it gets warmer we see more preventable speed-related crashes,” DSP spokesman Sgt. Richard Bratz said.

“It is imperative to know that split-second critical decisions are made by motorcyclists that impact every driver on our roads. Through better decisions, education, and enforcement we can work together to make a difference to reduce Delaware fatalities.”

Education matters
Mr. Crouch, a member of the state-sponsored Delaware Rider Educational Associationm believes education matters.

He touted a two-day, $50 safety course running at various statewide locations. The program is held for an entire Saturday and Sunday, along with internet requirements.

“It’s amazing that you’ll learn more during two days on the range than two years on the road on your own,” he said, noting that Diamond Motor Sports will refund the completion cost with a purchase.

Ms. Cornwell said keeping a bike “in tip top shape” is paramount, including proper tire pressure, brake pad inspections and watching shifter arms that wear down or break.

“Ongoing servicing is important to keeping a bike in good working order,” she said.

According to the state, 37 motorcycle crashes occurred between Jan. 1 and Monday, causing a combined six deaths and 40 other injuries.

The deadly incidents took place in Oak Orchard, Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware City, Fairfax and Millsboro

“Motorcyclists are vulnerable drivers on our roadways,” said Delaware OHS Motorcycle Traffic Safety Program Manager Sarah Cattie.

“It’s up to both riders and motorists to share the road according to Delaware laws that are put into place to ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safely.”

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic Public and Government Affairs Manager Ken Grant, “Road safety is everyone’s responsibility, whether driving a car, truck, or motorcycle and whether we are drivers, passengers, or pedestrians, it’s important for all of us to be aware of others using our roads and to follow basic safety policies while using our public roads.”

Information on motorcycle is available online at ArriveAliveDE.com/Motorcycle-Safety.
On June 8 in Smyrna, OHS will sponsor a Hammer Down for Habitat Motorcycle Ride and Community Day to promote safety awareness through community engagement. The event begins at 9 a.m. and held at the American Legion at 107 W. Glenwood Ave. in Smyrna beginning at 9 a.m. Games, a selfie station and safety information will be available.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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