Motorcycle fatalities rising sharply
by Wayne Moore - Story: 49696
Sep 22, 2009 / 2:00 pm
Since the middle of May, nine motorcyclists have lost their lives as a result of accidents on Okanagan roads.
In 2008, eight motorcycle riders perished on Okanagan roads.
As the number of motorcycles on the road increases, so too are the number of fatalities.
RCMP Traffic Services Superintendent, Norm Gaumont, says while the rise in fatalities is proportionate to the increase in the number of bikes on the road provincially, it is disproportionate in the Interior.
"We have had more than a 60% increase in fatalities in the interior of B.C. over the past 12 months," says Gaumont.
"There were 12 fatalities in 2008. We have already had 20 fatalities so far in 2009."
In 2008, Gaumont says there were about 90,000 motorcycles registered in the province. That is double the number of just 10 years ago.
During a presentation to Kelowna City Council Monday, Superintendent Bill McKinnon indicated one of the big problems is individuals who choose to ride without a valid motorcycle license.
"We are finding that right across the province, where we are getting a lot of people who are unlicensed or they are not properly licensed. This year in particular we are seeing a lot of individuals 40 and above getting themselves into all kinds of trouble."
He says during road checks specifically targeting motorcycles, officers are reporting an alarming increase in the number of riders who are not licensed to ride a motorcycle.
Gaumont says the RCMP is lobbying the province to make some changes to current legislation to try and cut down on the number of fatalities.
One of those changes would be the introduction of a Graduated Licensing Program for all new motorcycle riders.
"Right now, if you have a drivers license, you can literally take a road test and you're ready to go," says Gaumont.
My Note: is this guy an idiot? You still need to take the written, skills, AND road test....
"What we've said is it doesn't matter if you have a valid drivers license to drive a vehicle, you should be going through a graduated licensing program on a motorcycle."
It takes time and experience to ride a motorcycle, adds Gaumont.
"It doesn't happen overnight."
Gaumont says he would also like to see the introduction of mandatory safety training as well as new helmet laws.
To date, B.C. is the only province in Canada that doesn't have a standard law for helmets.
"If you have anything that resembles a helmet, we can't charge you. A lot of times we are finding that people die because of severe head injuries when they probably would have been mitigated if they were wearing a proper helmet."
Gaumont says since 2002, all motor vehicle fatalities are down by 100 across the board.
He says motorcycle fatals are going in the opposite direction.
"We are trying to keep our fatals down and this is the one area that we just haven't been able to."
With changes to legislation, Gaumont says he hopes to change that trend.
So yeah, watch out of roadblocks letting cars fly through it and ride safe..