Santa Monica Lookout
|Santa Monica Police Conducting Motorcycle Safety Program This Week|
By Lookout Staff
August 24, 2015 -- Despite California pumping millions each year into local efforts to prevent them, fatal crashes involving motorcyclists continue to go up, state traffic figures show.
Motorcycle fatalities increased 1.4 percent in 2013, the most recent year statistics are available from the state Office of Traffic Safety. That year, 453 motorcyclists were killed in traffic collisions, compared to 447 in 2012.
In an effort to reduce local motorcycle deaths and injuries, Santa Monica Police Department officers will be out in force on Wednesday and again on Saturday, patrolling streets traveled by motorcyclists and where motorcycle collisions are prevalent, said SMPD spokesman Sgt. Rudy Camarena.
“Officers will be looking for violations made by drivers and riders alike that can lead to motorcycle accidents,” said Camarena, adding that police will be especially looking for impaired riders and motorists, illegal turns and hazardous driving.
Drivers and motorcycle riders should expect to see extra police officers on certain streets between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. on both days this week, he added.
According to CaliforniaBiker.org, motorcycle crashes involving another vehicle that result in serious injuries and fatalities most commonly happen because the other driver failed to see the motorcyclist.
That's why SMPD is urging motorcyclist to “see and be seen,” by riding with lights on during the day, riding where they can be clearly seen in lanes, changing lanes only when there is ample room, and wearing brightly colored protective clothing.
And always wear a helmet, Camarena said.
In 2012, according to the most-recent figures from the National Highway Traffic Administration, there were 2,317 two-vehicle fatal crashes involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle. In 41 percent of those crashes, the other vehicles were turning left while the motorcycles were going straight, passing, or overtaking other vehicles.
That was the cause of a deadly 2013 collision at Pico Boulevard, near 24th Street, where a 22-year-old man on a motorcycle was killed when he struck a Toyota turning left in the intersection, police said at the time.
Motorcycle fatalities overall had dropped sharply from 2008 to 2010, by 37 percent during the period, Camarena said. But by 2012, the trend had reversed, with a 23 percent increase that year from 2011, he said.
“Operations like this are aimed at curbing and reversing the upswing in motorcycle deaths,” Camarena added.
California spent more than $98 million on highway safety programs in 2013, including more than $24 million on grants to police agencies for enhanced traffic enforcement program like this week's motorcycle safety program in Santa Monica, said a state Office of Traffic Safety report.
At the same time, traffic crashes killed more Californians. Fatalities increased that year, from 2,966 in 2012 to 3,000 in 2013, according to the same report. DUI deaths also went up, from 829 in 2012 to 867 in 2013, the report said.
But the state's Mileage Death Rate, or the number of fatalities for every 100 million miles traveled, was 0.8 in 2013, below the national rate of 1.1, and the fourth year in a row that California's rate has been below 1.0, the report said.
Traffic fatalities involving pedestrian and bicyclists saw the most dramatic increases: 701 pedestrians were killed by vehicles in 2013, up 6.9 percent from 2012, while bicycle fatalities jumped 8.6 percent, from 129 in 2012 to 141 in 2013.
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