Three deaths investigated in June

 Pickering motorcycle accident Dave Parsons PICKERING -- A motorcyclist is dead after he fell off his bike in Pickering Sunday afternoon and was hit by a car. June 21, 2015

Pickering motorcycle accident
Dave Parsons
A motorcyclist is dead after he fell off his bike in Pickering Sunday afternoon and was hit by a car. June 21, 2015

With the arrival of summer, police are once again urging both motorists and motorcycle riders to stay alert and share the road.

Already this year Durham police have investigated 12 motorcycle-related accidents involving personal injuries, and three have resulted in fatalities, said Durham police Sergeant Glenn Courneyea.

Two of those fatalities occurred just last weekend. On June 19, a 24-year-old Clarington man died after his dirt bike collided head-on with a bike ridden by his 26-year-old brother on private property. The 26-year-old man was airlifted to a Toronto hospital with serious injuries.

On Sunday, June 21, a 43-year-old Ajax man died after losing control of his motorcycle and colliding with another vehicle on Pickering Parkway, near the Pickering Town Centre.

And on June 11, a 22-year-old rider died when his motorcycle struck an SUV at the intersection of Rossland and Salem roads in Ajax.

In 2013 Durham police investigated 23 personal injury accidents involving motorcycles, four of them fatal. In 2014 there were 32 personal injury motorcycle incidents, and one dirt bike rider was killed, Durham police said.

It’s already been a deadly season beyond Durham, as well. On Monday, June 22, a 61-year-old man died when his bike collided with a car near the town of Essex, Ontario. Meanwhile, the Special Investigations Unit is probing the death of a 34-year-old motorcycle rider who crashed while fleeing from police early Sunday, June 21, in Alliston.

And on Saturday, June 20, two men participating in a veterans’ ride were killed when a car slammed into their bikes as they rode with a group in Prince Edward County.

So far this season the OPP have investigated motorcycle 11 fatalities, Sergeant Kerry Schmidt noted.

“Seven of the 11 were classified as (the motorcyclist) driving properly at the time,” he said. “That leads you to believe another vehicle played a role in the incident.

“It’s the motorcyclist who pays the price” when collisions occur, he said.

Last year the OPP investigated 32 motorcyle-related fatalities, Sgt. Schmidt said.

These incidents, combined with the death of a 29-year-old Oshawa e-bike rider June 12 in Pickering, are troubling indicators of what can happen when roadways become busier in the summer months, Sgt. Courneyea said.

“It’s the responsibility of both the motorcycle riders as well as other motorists,” he said. “We’re imploring everyone to look out not just for motorcycles, but also cyclists and pedestrians. Take that extra second, and look around.”

Much of the onus falls on motorcycle riders, as many accidents are chalked up to “operator error”, Sgt. Courneyea said.

A study of motorcycle fatalities by OPP released last summer revealed that speed and loss of control are the leading factors in the incidents. The study also dispelled myths surrounding motorcycle accidents: it’s not predominantly young, inexperienced riders getting into trouble in unfavourable conditions.

The OPP found that of the 175 motorcyclists killed between 2008 and 2014, just 16 were under the age of 25; almost half the victims were between 45 and 64, the research found. And collisions most often occurred between noon and 6 p.m., on favourable road conditions.

Even when motorcyclists are driving properly, they’re obviously at greater risk of injury or death when involved in a collision with a vehicle, police acknowledge. That’s why it’s incumbent on riders to operate their bikes safely and avoid drugs and alcohol.

“You want all your senses at 100 per cent,” Sgt. Courneyea said. “(Riders) are operating a vehicle that puts them at greater risk at all times.”

Source: Durham Region