TRI-CITIES, Wash. – As the temperatures warm, more people are hitting the roads. However, motorcyclists are much more vulnerable to crashes than other drivers, and there's already been multiple motorcycle crashes in the Tri-Cities the past two weeks.
Doug Walters was a motorcyclist who lost his life in November, and after the fatal motorcycle crash in Richland on George Washington Way last week, the Walter’s family said it hit home for them.
As Doug Walters was riding his Purple Harley Davidson police said a school bus pulled out in front of him, taking his life. His death shocked the community.
"But it wasn't enough for people to realize it only takes a second," Kayla Walters said, Doug’s daughter-in-law.
Kayla is part of the biking community and she said with the frequency of fatal motorcycle crashes in the area, she doesn't feel safe.
"I worry about going out on the road every day and not coming home to my family because we've already been through that and I don’t want our family to ever go through that again."
According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, motorcycle fatalities have been on the rise an average of 10 percent per year over the last 20 years.
A majority of collisions involving a motorcycle and another motor vehicle tend to occur at intersections or during a lane change. When motorcycles crash with other vehicles, the other vehicle driver often violates the motorcyclist's right-of-way, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.
"Fathers, parents, moms out on their motorcycles every day,” Kayla said. “They have families to come home to."
Police said a motorcyclist has the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as any other motorist on the roadway.
Police warn that motorcycles and their riders are smaller visual targets than cars or trucks, and drivers may not expect to see motorcycles on the road.
"As soon as something divides a driver’s attention, horrible things can happen," Captain Mike Cobb said.
Every driver shares the responsibility for each other's safety on the road, Captain Cobb said. He stressed the importance of checking mirrors and blind spots and giving motorcyclists a greater following distance.
"That's why it’s so important that you don't let your part of the bargain down because if you do everybody else's family suffers," he said.
Kayla admits she knows one story about careless driving won't fix everything.
"But if it got to just one person and it saved one family from going through the heartache, then that would make me happy," she said.
As her late father Doug, would say, “Look twice, save a life.”
Police and the Walters family urge drivers to share the road and stay alert, and that goes for motorcycle riders too.
Safe riding practices and cooperation from all road users will help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our community.
- Never drive while distracted. Doing so can result in tragic consequences for everyone on the road, including motorcyclists.
- Share the road. A motorcyclist has the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as any other motorist on the roadway. Vehicle size is NOT a factor!
- Allow motorcyclists a full lane width. Do not attempt to share the lane: a motorcyclist needs room to maneuver safely.
- Because of the smaller size, drivers can also misjudge how close a motorcycle is, and how fast it is going. This is especially true at intersections.
- Know your blind spots! Perform a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots at intersections and before entering or exiting a lane of traffic.
- Never tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop much more quickly than cars.
- Don't be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle it may not be self-canceling and the motorcyclist may have forgotten to turn it off. Wait to be sure of the rider's intentions before you proceed.