Tragic start to Alberta's motorcycle season with 4 dead

·2 min read
In 2021, there were 19 crashes resulting in 20 fatalities.  (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)
In 2021, there were 19 crashes resulting in 20 fatalities. (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)

Four Albertans died in motorcycle accidents last month — bringing attention to what a safety association is calling a frustrating and preventable issue.

There were four fatalities in Alberta in May, according to the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society, with three of them around the Calgary region. The latest collision in Alberta was between a school bus with students on it and a motorcycle in Airdrie, Alta.

Liane Langlois, president of the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society, says the organization is trying to lower the statistics of motorcycle accidents.

In 2020, there were 20 crashes across the province resulting in 21 fatalities. Last year, there were 19 crashes resulting in 20 fatalities, numbers from the society say.

"It's super frustrating considering that all four of the incidents that have happened so far this year are all preventable," she said.

"It's hard when you hear of these fatalities and you want to try and lower the statistics and you do everything that you can to create awareness, especially around the start of the season."

The society tracks fatalities and says over the last two years 80 per cent of deaths related to motorcycles happened in rural areas.

"We may be more hyper-sensitive within the city because there's so much going on in the municipal areas. Out in the rural areas, there's still a lot to be aware of and you can't let your guard down, ever," she said.

'I didn't see you'

Motorcycle driving instructor Darren Sumner who teaches at driving schools in Brooks, Medicine Hat, Calgary, and Edmonton, says riding motorcycles shouldn't be dangerous.

"It really does depend on the education of the rider. There are a lot of demographics involved. Some younger riders … will take risks," he said.

"Then some other riders who are outside of that kind of risk category maybe don't have the skills for certain bikes and have accidents because of inattentional blindness or target fixation."

He said inattentional blindness is the main reason motorcyclists are involved in collisions with other drivers.

Sumner was also a senior police instructor in the United Kingdom.

He said in Europe those types of accidents have their own acronym, dubbed S.M.I.D.S.Y,  which stands for: sorry mate, I didn't see you.

"If another vehicle gets involved in a collision with the motorcyclist, generally first thing the driver says is 'I didn't see you,'" he said.

Target fixation happens when a driver focuses on an object and inadvertently increases their risk of colliding with it.

The main tips Sumner gives students are:

  • The most important thing is good observation — pay attention to the whole road.

  • Make your own decisions. Don't rely on anybody else around you.

  • Ride within your capabilities.

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