(WWLP) — Between January and mid-July of 2021, according to state officials, there had been 11 motorcycle deaths in western Massachusetts and 37 statewide. Data released by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation showed at least four motorcycle deaths in July alone.
Those 37 motorcycle deaths in the first half of 2021 represented an increase of 31 percent from the previous five years. What’s more, Mass.gov says automobile drivers, not motorcyclists, are responsible for more than two-thirds of car-motorcycle crashes. Many times, drivers don’t see the motorcyclist until it’s too late to avoid a crash.
Check out the stats for the first half of the year in Western Massachusetts:
- June 7, 10:54 a.m. (Male Operator) East St. + Newell St., Pittsfield
- May 20, 11:31 p.m. (Male Operator) 213 Main St., Williamstown
- April 24, 1:00 p.m. (Male Operator) Government Dr., Pittsfield
- April 19, 12:40 p.m. (Male Operator) Curran Memorial Hwy. + South State St., North Adams
- July 23, 12:05 p.m. (Operator unknown) I-91 SOUTH, MM 8.3, Chicopee
- April 10, 10:16 p.m. (Male Operator) 361 Miller St. WEST + Cislak Dr., Ludlow
- June 5, 1:15 a.m. (Male Operator) Pantry Rd. + Mountain Rd., Hatfield
- May 15, 2:09 p.m. (Male Operator) SR-9 + Enoch Sanford Rd., Belchertown
- April 14, 8:22 p.m. (Male Operator) 102 Amherst Rd., Belchertown
- June 6, 8:26 p.m. (Male Operator) 153 Millers Falls Rd., Northfield
- May 23, 4:51 p.m. (Male Operator) 97 Cave Hill Rd., Leverett
Motorcycle fatalities in Central and Eastern Massachusetts
- July 24, 2:09 a.m. (Male Operator) 75 Dorchester St., Quincy
- July 15, 7:17 p.m. (Male Operator) 64 Andover St., Danvers
- July 15, 6:07 a.m. (Male Operator) Mill St. + County St., New Bedford
- June 30, 5:33 p.m. (Male Operator) 348 Central St., Franklin
- June 28, 8:46 p.m. (Male Operator) 1317 Washington St., Stoughton
- June 28, 8:46 p.m. (Male Passenger) 1317 Washington St., Stoughton
- June 26, 8:15 p.m. (Male Operator) Fort Ave., south of Winter Island Rd., Salem
- June 22, 12:29 p.m. (Male Operator) I-90 EAST, MM 131.0, Boston
- June 21, 7:58 p.m. (Male Operator) SR-20, east of I-495, Marlborough
- June 19, 4:15 p.m. (Male Operator) East Broadway + N St., Boston
- June 12, 12:00 a.m. (Male Operator) Eastern Ave. + County St., Fall River
- June 6, 12:00 a.m. (Female Passenger) 2344 Acushnet Ave., New Bedford
- June 1, 4:30 p.m. (Male Operator) 53 Catacunemaug Rd., Shirley
- May 16, 5:28 p.m. (Male Operator) Boylston St. + Brunswick St., Lowell
- May 15, 7:34 p.m. (Male Operator) Pleasant St. + Varley Rd., Marlborough
- May 13, 7:14 p.m. (Male Operator) Broadway St. + Fletcher St., Lowell
- May 12, 12:00 a.m. (Male Operator) 70 Grove St., North Brookfield
- May 11, 9:48 p.m. (Male Operator) 50 Main St., Medway
- May 8, 9:00 p.m. (Male Operator) 5 Maple St., Norton
- May 1, 11:43 a.m. (Male Operator) SR-28 + County Rd., Rochester
- April 28, 1:09 a.m. (Male Operator) I-93 NORTH, EXIT 38, Wilmington
- April 22, 12:43 p.m. (Male Operator) Main St. (SR-228) + Middle St. + Short St., Hingham
- April 11, 6:41 a.m. (Male Operator) 12 Huntoon Memorial Hwy., Leicester
- April 2, 8:17 p.m. (Male Operator) Elm St. + Bridge St., Templeton
- March 21, 12:43 p.m. (Male Operator) 94 Main St. + Baker St., Kingston
- March 12, 6:49 p.m. (Male Operator) Arborway + South St., Boston
Advice to drivers
Motorcycles can be easy to miss. They are more difficult to spot than cars because of their smaller profiles, and drivers are conditioned to look for other cars, not motorcyclists. Traffic, weather, and road conditions require motorcyclists to react differently than drivers, so it’s often hard to judge or predict when a rider may swerve.
Know when crashes are likely to occur and be aware of motorcyclists. You’re more likely to be involved in an accident with a motorcycle when a biker is in your blind spot, especially when you’re making a left turn in front of them. This means that you, as a driver, must always be hyperaware of your surroundings. The safety saying goes, “Check twice, save a life.”
Plus, there are hazardous road conditions. Your line of sight may be blocked by sport utility vehicles, delivery vans, and large trucks. Potholes, wet leaves, railroad tracks, or other obstructions may force a biker to act unexpectedly. Even so, as the driver of a car, you should drive defensively.
Motorcyclists have the same privileges as other drivers. Give motorcycles the full lane of travel, and especially keep an eye out for them at intersections and on highways. Don’t follow motorcycles too closely, and try to anticipate a motorcyclist’s maneuvers. For example, if you see a piece of debris in the road that your vehicle easily plows over or through, be aware that it can be deadly if hit by a motorcycle rider. You can probably expect the motorcyclist to evade the debris. Allow enough room for them to take such evasive actions.
Advice to motorcyclists
Don’t assume you are visible to a driver. As a motorcyclist, it is your responsibility to make your presence known to drivers. Select and wear an appropriate helmet with retroreflective materials. A helmet is your most valuable piece of protective gear and should be visible to drivers. Wear bright, contrasting protective clothing. If you wear dark clothing, wear a fluorescent vest.
Use headlights while riding on the highway, and use high beams rather than low beams. Also, consider a modulating headlight.
Proper lane position is also important. It helps drivers see you and protects your riding space. Remember, if
you can see a driver in the side-view mirror, the driver can see you. Don’t “hide” in a driver’s blind spot,
and always signal before making a move. For safety’s sake, “lane splitting”—or weaving between lanes—should always be avoided, even if it’s legal where you are.
Remember, there is no one safe place to ride. Use lane positioning to be seen and to provide extra space
for emergency braking situations or avoidance maneuvers. Never share a lane with a car. Drivers may not
expect you alongside their cars and may not be aware of your presence.
You are more likely to be involved in an accident when a car is making a left turn in front of you or you’re in a driver’s blind spot. Drivers may not know you’re there, and sometimes fail to check their blind spots before changing lanes or making a turn.
Road conditions also pose hazards. Potholes, wet leaves, railroad tracks, and other road obstructions may force you to make a move a driver does not anticipate. If a driver can’t see you, they can’t avoid you, so beware of sport utility vehicles, delivery vans, and large trucks that block you from being seen by other drivers.