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Posts Tagged ‘Truck Drivers’

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 3.34.02 PMThe State of Oregon has more than 74,000 miles of total roads and highways to wander as you set out on your northwest adventure.  The state is known for a diverse landscape including the Pacific coastline, the Cascade Mountain Range, and the flat central/eastern desert. It’s the ninth largest state and with a population of 4 million, the 26th most populous.

Yet, over the last couple of weeks the state is being defined by an alarming spike in motorcycle accidents and rider deaths!  OSP flash alerts are HERE.

  • On Highway 36 on June 24th a 2004 Harley crossed the center line and struck a Ford Ranger head-on. The motorcyclist, 56-year-old Michael R. Lucier of Swisshome, died at the scene.
  • On June 25th there was motorcycle crash on Highway 46 at milepost 7 (Caves Highway near Cave Junction).  The preliminary investigation revealed that a 2001 Triumph motorcycle was eastbound on Highway 46 at milepost 7 when it left the roadway on a corner. The motorcycle struck a tree and the rider, Patrick Michael Daley, age 57, of Cave Junction, was thrown down the embankment and pronounced deceased at the scene.
  • On June 26th there was a report of a truck versus motorcycle collision on Interstate 5 at the 235 interchange (just north of Albany). The 1995 Kenworth truck tractor was towing a chip trailer and had been traveling southbound on Old Salem Road. The truck began to make a left turn onto the Interstate 5 southbound on-ramp, but turned in front of a northbound 1995 Kawasaki motorcycle. The motorcyclist crashed as a result of the truck turning into its path. The rider, Kevin R. Argo, age 39, of Lebanon was pronounced deceased at the scene by emergency personnel.
  • On June 30th near Deadwood, OR, Richard F. Araujo, 68, died when he missed a corner on his 1992 Harley Davidson and sideswiped a Dodge pickup. It was the 2nd fatal motorcycle crash on Highway 36 in less than a week.
  • On July 2nd OSP responded to a report of a motorcycle versus vehicle crash on London Road near the Cottage Grove Reservoir.  Information revealed a 1999 Honda 900 motorcycle was traveling southbound on London Road at a high rate of speed just as a 2008 Chrysler Sebring was pulling out of a private drive northbound. The motorcycle impacted the driver’s side of the Sebring. The rider, identified as Cory Nathan Tocher, age 33, of Cottage Grove, was thrown from the motorcycle and pronounced deceased at the scene.
  • Also on July 2nd there was a report of a traffic crash involving a motorcycle rider and an SUV on Southeast 82nd Avenue near Schiller Street.  Efforts to save the motorcyclist, 45-year-old Aaron Christopher Rufener were unsuccessful and he was pronounced deceased at the scene by emergency personnel.  The driver of the SUV, a 44-year-old man, remained at the scene and was cooperative. Officers learned that he was driving northbound on 82nd Avenue and was turning left into the Don Pedro Mexican Restaurant parking lot when the southbound motorcycle rider crashed into the passenger side rear of the SUV, a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer. The motorcycle is a 2013 Harley Davidson.

In addition, on July 5th there was a vehicle crash reported on I-5, just south of Ashland.  The crash, involved a BMW motorcycle and a semi-truck going southbound at mile post 10.5.  The motorcycle was from Mexico and was traveling at about 70 mph when it ran into the back of a semi-truck.  The motorcycle driver was transported to Oregon Health and Science University to be treated for his life-threatening injuries.

On July 6th, again on I-5 in northern Josephine County near Wolf Creek, OSP responded to the single-vehicle accident at milepost 80.  David Carl Freiboth, 61-year-old of Mercer Island was riding his Triumph motorcycle in the fast lane of I-5 when a semi-truck in the slow lane quickly signaled and changed lanes in front of him.  Freiboth told OSP he hit his brakes and quickly veered away from the semi, which caused him to hit the median and lay his bike down. He complained of shoulder pain and was transported by AMR Ambulance to Three Rivers Medical Center for treatment.  A motorcyclist behind Freiboth confirmed the incident, but was unsure about the description of the semi – which did not stop after causing the mishap.

Oregon has no shortage of steep grades, tight curves and awesome views that can be fascinating on a motorcycle.  But, please, PLEASE pay attention because we want you to live through your trip here!

If you are new or considering a motorcycle visit to the state I urged riders – to review motorcycle safety information.

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ambulanceA couple years ago just after dusk several of us were returning to Las Vegas after a busy day in Laughlin, NV at the River Run.  Hwy 163 is a long windy road at night in the desert.  Black asphalt runs like a ribbon through the mountains near Pipe Springs Canyon where we came upon motorcycle pieces scattered all over the road. Flashing emergency lights blinded us and in the center divider was a white tarp covering someone’s remains.

I won’t speculate if the accident was the result of inexperience, poor judgement or equipment failure, but it was obvious the motorcyclist slid out on a curve and ended up in the wrong lane beneath a SUV.  It was a sobering reminder of riding risks and left a lasting impression.

Economic issues notwithstanding, motorcycle ownership is on the rise in Oregon.  The state has more than 131,200 registered motorcycles and scooters. That’s twice the number from 1999 and at an all-time high.  But what is alarming is that nearly 30% of the 14,268 people who received motorcycle licenses in 2008 hit the highways without going through a single motorcycle-safety course to learn basic skills, according to state statistics. 

I thought about that accident when today I learned there have been 6 motorcycle fatalities for 2009 as of April 10th and 5 were from the first two weekends of spring!  Three of these happened in the Portland area.  In the northwest the reality is that when the sun comes out, so do the motorcycles. And sometimes tragedy follows.

sb546According to police, inexperience, is the most-common cause of motorcycle fatalities.  It’s just not about motorcyclists losing control.  In past week 463 inspections were made in a truck driver operation. More than 1-in-10 vehicles and 20% of the drivers were placed out-of-service for equipment and driver-related safety violations at the southbound Interstate 5 Woodburn area.  Arrests/ticketing for everything from false urine test kits, possession of meth, marijuana, illegal handguns, suspended licenses and DUII.  These statistics are most worrisome and something to remember the next time you decide to throttle around a truck hoping they don’t reach for a breakfast burrito and run you over!  All this underscores a sobering reality that Oregon’s roads are dangerous.

And if the above truck driver information wasn’t enough of the dumb acting dumber… there is the Bend motorcyclist Anthony Suratt who was westbound on Hwy 126 riding his 2003 Suzuki motorcycle and clocked at 135mph on radar.  While trying to eluded police he failed to negotiate a sweeping right hand corner and crashed.  His jail mates will likely enjoy the “almost got away” story. 

Later this week the Salem legislators are considering SB 546 (.pdf) sponsored by Vicki Walker (D-Eugene) which directs the Department of Transportation to include on driver license examinations at least two questions pertaining to practices necessary for safe operation of a vehicle around motorcyclists.  I’m told this bill  also includes mandatory training provisions, but I couldn’t locate the actual text to confirm.  The bottom line is that motorcycle accident statistics suggest we need to be intellectually honest with ourselves… more and more of the most preventable hazards facing a motorcyclist is their own poor judgment.

Please beware and ever diligent as you ride.

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