In 8 days, three motorcycle crashes in Okeechobee County

OKEECHOBEE – The third motorcyclist to be injured in a week was Traumahawked out of Okeechobee after suffering a serious accident on Thursday night, Feb. 28, at approximately 8 p.m. on State Road 78 near Southwest 53rd Street.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the 48-year-old Okeechobee man riding the 1993 Hawk failed to negotiate a turn, drove onto the right shoulder of the highway and fell over, sustaining life-threatening injuries. He was not wearing a helmet. He was airlifted to Lawnwood Medical Center. The cause of the accident is under investigation. Identification is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, a motorcycle allegedly cut in front of a red Mercedes and though the driver of the car slammed on her brakes, she was unable to avoid hitting him and he was seriously injured and was also airlifted to Lawnwood Medical Center. He, too, was not wearing a helmet.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, a female rider was seriously injured on U.S. 441 Southeast at about 5 p.m. and passed away several days later.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 5,286 motorcyclists killed in the United States in 2016, and per mile driven, a fatality is 28 percent more likely on a motorcycle than while driving a passenger car. Thirty-seven percent of bikers who died in single-vehicle crashes were found to be alcohol-impaired. The NHTSA estimates that helmets saved 1,859 lives in 2016 and that 802 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists wore helmets, and reports that 72 percent of motorcycle involved accidents were impacted in the front, with only 7 percent impacted in the rear; 23 percent of motorcycle crashes are with fixed objects. In 2016, there were 2,625 fatal crashes involving a motorcycle and another vehicle, and in 41 percent of those, the other vehicle was turning left while the motorcycle was continuing straight and/or attempted to pass or overtake other vehicles, and 33 percent of all motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes in 2016 were speeding. “Ride responsibly,” says the NHTSA. “Experienced riders know local traffic laws — and they don’t take risks. Obey traffic lights, signs, speed limits and lane markings; ride with the flow of traffic and leave plenty of room between your bike and other vehicles; and always check behind you and signal before you change lanes. Remember to ride defensively.”

It takes an average person 27 feet to stop his car when driving 10 mph because you have to include perception/reaction distance and braking/deceleration, states the Computer Support Group Network. That distance increases the faster the car travels. At 25 mph, they estimate it takes 85 feet to stop a car, and at 60 mph, they estimate 304 feet.

The TxDOT shares Tips for sharing the road with motorcycles:

• Look twice for motorcycles, especially at intersections.

• Always assume motorcycles are closer than they appear to be, and avoid turning in front of an oncoming motorcycle.

• Use your turn signals and check your blind spot before changing lanes.

• Don’t follow a motorcycle too closely.

• Give motorcyclists a full lane.

• Obey posted speed limits.

The responsibility for the safety of motorcyclists rests equally on the shoulders of those who ride the bikes and on those who share the roads with them.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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