Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

The horrific death of a cyclist in New York City earlier this month – a moment captured on video – has brought attention to the way police there and in many other parts of the country treat fatalities brought about by reckless driving.

The New York Times reports that an 18-year-old man has been arrested and charged with manslaughter in the death of a 52-year-old cyclist in Brooklyn earlier this month. Barreling through a red light at high speed, the driver slammed into an SUV that was passing legally through the intersection. The force of the impact flung the SUV caddy-corner across the intersection directly into a cyclist who was patiently waiting for the red light to change on the opposite corner. The entire incident was captured on a dashcam video by another car waiting at the corner where the bike rider died. (Note: the first paragraph of The New York Times story below includes a link to the video. Be warned that it is extremely graphic and unsettling)

The newspaper reports that “bicycle advocates want stronger laws, as well as a cultural change similar to the one around drunken driving.” The question, at its root, is when reckless or negligent behavior crosses the line into criminality. The paper notes that “drivers who cause fatalities are almost never criminally charged, unless there are aggravating circumstances… running a red light is almost never considered reckless driving” even in a case like this where doing so leads to someone’s death.

Late last week The Oregonian, citing the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, reported that “a Portland man died and two others were injured when a motorcycle and car collided… in Fairview.” The accident took place late at night on Northeast Halsey Street. According to the paper, a westbound motorcycle carrying both an adult and a child “collided with an eastbound car at Halsey and Seventh streets.”

The motorcycle’s driver was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger (whose age was not announced) was taken “to a local hospital with serious injuries. The car driver had minor injuries and was also taken to a hospital.”

Many of the details of this incident remain unclear. Notably, the media reports do not say in which lane (eastbound or westbound) took place, making it difficult at this point to speculate about who may have been at fault. Two things, however, are clear. First, the accident serves as a reminder of the special responsibilities adults have when they have children as passengers in motor vehicles, or are responsible for an accident in which a child is killed or injured. Second, this incident highlights some disturbing loopholes in Oregon’s child safety laws when it comes to motorcycles.

One of the deadliest stretches of road in our city will see radical changes beginning today. According to The Oregonian automated speed cameras “will be activated along the 3/4 –mile stretch of Southeast Division Street between 148th and 162nd avenues.” This comes just four days after the city council voted to lower the speed limit along a broader stretch of the road, running from Southeast 87th Avenue to 154th Avenue.

While the speed limit cameras have been in the works for some time (a state law approving their use was passed in 2015) the choice of Southeast Division as the site for one of the first sets installed is evidence of how much of a problem this stretch of road has become. Last week The Oregonian quoted Dan Saltzman, the City Commissioner who oversees the Portland Transportation Bureau, referring to Southeast Division as “a death corridor.” The newspaper noted that of Portland’s 44 traffic fatalities last year five took place on this one stretch of road. The 2016 tally of fatal Portland auto accidents was the highest since 2003, and the concentration of so many deaths in such a small area made a strong case for action.

According to KGW the city transportation division “used a little-known state law to enable the Portland City Commission to quickly lower the speed limit. Commissioners used their emergency safety authority to reduce the speed limit with Thursday’s vote.” Normally it is state officials who control the setting and changing of speed limits. The move drops the speed limit in the area from 35 mph to 30 mph, but it is only effective for 120 days. Saltzman and other city officials said the statistics along Southeast Division cried out for immediate action. The city government hopes state officials will move to make the new lower limit permanent before the four-month measure expires and are preparing to file required paperwork requesting the change.

An Oregon motorcycle crash that also involved a pickup truck left a Monmouth man dead over the weekend, according to a report in this morning’s Oregonian. The newspaper reports that the man “died Sunday morning in a collision between a pickup truck and a motorcycle on Oregon 51 north of Independence.”

The victim, age 22 according to the newspaper, “struck the right front side of the truck and crashed through (its) windshield” when the driver of the truck, a 77-year-old man, “attempted to turn his truck left into a driveway.” The paper also reports that witnesses say neither the motorcycle nor the truck appeared to be speeding at the time of the Oregon motorcycle accident. Although an investigation of the fatal crash is still underway, the newspaper cites police sources saying they believe alcohol was not involved in the Sunday morning accident. Both men were airlifted to Salem Memorial Hospital, according to The Oregonian, where the motorcycle rider was pronounced dead and the driver of the truck remains in critical condition.

Based on these details, what we appear to see here is a straightforward case of poor driving, the sort of accident that happens every day in every American city, and which is all the more tragic because it is so easily avoidable.

A recent article in The Oregonian offered the following somewhat surprising revelation: despite deaths from motorcycle crashes having “more than doubled since the mid-1990s” several major motorcycle-focused lobbying groups are advocating for fewer regulations and less enforcement concerning helmets.

The paper writes that lobbyists and their congressional allies want the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to be “blocked from providing any more grants to states to conduct highway stops of motorcyclists to check for safety violations such as the wearing of helmets that don’t meet federal standards.”

Even more shockingly, “the rider groups are seeking to preserve what essentially is a gag rule that since 1998 has prevented the agency from advocating safety measures at the state and local levels, including helmet laws.” The article notes that the gag rule is supported both by grassroots-based riders groups and by lobbyists working for motorcycle makers. It is surprising to learn that just 19 states require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets – though also a relief to find that Oregon is one of them. Even more surprising, however, is the revelation that state legislatures have been rolling back helmet laws for years. The article notes that in the late 70s all but three states required everyone on a motorcycle to be wearing a helmet.

A young child (his exact age was not released by police) was injured in a Salem motorcycle accident involving a pick-up truck earlier this month, according to

I have highlighted the dangers of injuries to Oregon children from ATV accidents in previous blogs. The details of this incident – which involved a dirt bike, rather than an ATV, are, however, a reminder that children far too young to drive can be found operating motorized vehicles and that without the exercise of extreme caution tragedy can result in an instant.

According to the newspaper, the accident began with the boy “riding on dirt trails on his grandparents’ property.” The trail in question was apparently next to the road. Though accompanied by his mother, the child “suddenly drove into the roadway in front of the truck.” The Oregon motorcycle accident took place when the child’s dirt bike was struck by a pick-up truck traveling east on Lakeside Drive in Salem. The paper quotes both witnesses to the Oregon child accident and the driver of the truck telling police that “there was no way for the driver to avoid hitting the child.” The paper reports that there is no indication that the driver was “impaired.”

A recent Oregon motorcycle crash left a Salem man hospitalized in critical condition, according to The Oregonian.

The newspaper reports the accident took place in Aurora at the junction of Oregon Route 551 and Ehlen Road. Quoting a press release from law enforcement officials, the paper says the Aurora motorcycle accident took place when the rider, who was obeying relevant traffic signals, entered the intersection and “was immediately hit by a 2006 Toyota Scion” whose driver “was turning left from eastbound Ehlen Road onto northbound Oregon 551.”

The motorcycle rider was airlifted to the Oregon Health and Science University Hospital by helicopter. The driver of the Toyota “was transported by ambulance to Legacy Meridian Park Hospital with minor injuries. He has been cited for careless driving and taking a dangerous left turn,” the paper reports.

A Clatsop County court has convicted a 45-year old Portland man in a case stemming from a fatal drunk driving car crash last year, according to The Oregonian.

The case of Ken Middleton’s Portland fatal car crash is particularly shocking not only because of the sheer amount of alcohol he consumed in the hours leading up to the accident, but also because he got behind the wheel so completely intoxicated despite having his own 13-year-old daughter riding with him. The Daily Astorian reported that Middleton, at his trial, “admitted he had consumed at least 12 beers that day.” His daughter, mercifully, “suffered only minor injuries,” according to The Oregonian.

In addition to Oregon drunk driving Middleton was convicted of manslaughter, second-degree assault and three counts of reckless endangering, The Oregonian reports. The manslaughter charge stems from the death of Andrew Church, a motorcyclist whom Middleton struck head on when he drifted over the centerline as he and his daughter drove along US-30 in Astoria last May.

In a scenario that reads like a scene from a movie or television show, a 19-year-old motorcycle rider was arrested Friday at the end of a high-speed chase near Salem. According to The Oregonian, the chase included a dramatic Oregon motorcycle and car crash that, miraculously, left no one injured.

The incident began when a Marion County sheriffs’ deputy saw a lone motorcyclist zoom past him at 112 miles per hour. According to the Salem Statesman-Journal, the officer chased the motorcyclist southbound on I-5 at speeds as high as 125 miles per hour but eventually relented for fear of endangering other drivers. When the biker tried to exit at Mission Street SE, however, he lost control of his motorcycle and was hurled off the bike as it careened off-road. The riderless motorcycle then slammed into a car as the rider attempted to flee on foot, according to The Oregonian.

By an extraordinary stroke of luck neither the biker nor the driver of the car his motorcycle hit was injured. Once apprehended the 19-year-old suspect was charged with a long list of offenses: “reckless driving, attempting to elude police, hit-and-run, driving without insurance and failing to have a motorcycle endorsement, as well as several citations,” the Statesman-Journal reported. The rider, according to The Oregonian, later told police he fled from them because he wanted to avoid getting “another” speeding ticket.

Portland-area drivers on I-205 near Gladstone were delayed for hours last Thursday as police closed the road in both directions to investigate the circumstances surrounding a serious Oregon motorcycle crash, according to The Oregonian.

Media reports emphasize that the investigation into the accident and its exact circumstances is still in progress, but some basic details are clear. According to the Portland Tribune, the accident took place Thursday afternoon when a motorcycle that was headed north on the interstate “collided with a vehicle, throwing the rider into a southbound lane.”

This accident highlights the special dangers motorcyclists face on our roads. Despite advances in safety gear, such as helmets, Oregon motorcyclists remain far more likely than car drivers or passengers to die or suffer serious injury as the result of an Oregon motorcycle accident while operating their vehicle.

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