May is Motorcycle Safety Month in Alberta. (File photo)

Central Alberta leads province in motorcycle-related deaths

Six dead so far this season

Five out of Alberta’s six motorcycle-related deaths happened in Central Alberta in the past two weeks and motorcycle season has only begun.

On Saturday afternoon, a motorcycle driver and passenger were killed in a collision with a truck east of Innisfail.

Almost two weeks ago, near Maskwacis, a motorcycle driver and passenger died after colliding with a truck. The truck’s passenger, who tried to help the motorcyclists, died when a third vehicle drove into the crash site.

In Southern Alberta, a lone motorcyclist near Cochrane also died Saturday while taking a curve.

“It’s a busy time of year. We’re not only going to get more motorcycles, we’re going to get more traffic volume as we get closer to the summer,” said Const. Mike Hibbs with Alberta RCMP Traffic Services.

He said in 2016, 23 people died in crashes involving motorcycles.

The speed involved in a crash will affect the outcome, but motorcyclists are more vulnerable, he said.

“You have a higher risk of fatality on a motorcycle than in a vehicle for sure.”

He said speed or loose gravel on the road can cause motorcyclists to crash.

“Another reason is following too closely. If you have to brake suddenly, you need more time to stop a motorcycle than you do a vehicle because you’re on two wheels instead of four.”

Other advice for motorcyclists included:

l Wear an approved motorcycle helmet and replace damaged helmets.

l Wear shatter-proof eye protection; a durable, bright coloured jacket; long pants; leather footwear that protects the ankles; full-fingered, non-slip gloves and weather-proof riding clothes.

l Drive defensively by being aware of your surroundings, sharing the road, and changing lanes with extreme caution.

l Practice on safe roads away from high traffic areas to make sure you are comfortable and confident in your skills.

Hibbs advised other motorists on the road to take their time when changing lanes and using their signal lights in advance to warn motorcyclists.

“Some collisions are because the motorcycle is right in the blind spot of the vehicle and people aren’t doing proper shoulder checks. Don’t rely on your mirrors because you do have blind spots.”

Intersections can also be a dangerous place, he said.

“You have to stop and check at intersections. You have to make sure nothing is coming either way.”

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