Sullivan: May through September is the most deadly period for motorcyclists

May 30, 2024, 6:30 AM

dangerous motorcyclists...

Remains of a motorcycle after a crash. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

You’ve probably noticed a lot more motorcyclists are out now that the weather has improved, but we are now in the most dangerous months of the year for them.

This is a shared responsibility. Riders and drivers both need to watch out for each other and share the road. 138 motorcycle riders were killed on Washington roads last year. 131 did not come home from their rides in 2022.

We had a crash involving a motorcycle on northbound Interstate 405 (I-405) just yesterday in Bellevue.

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And there is one common denominator when a motorcyclist gets tangled up with a car or a truck: The rider almost always loses. Either wrong place, wrong time or doing something that they shouldn’t have been doing, they ultimately hit a car and due to there being no safety cage around and nothing to really protect you, they end up being seriously injured or passing away,”  Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper John Dattilo said.

Trooper Dattilo monitors Pierce and Thurston Counties, which have already had 42 motorcycle crashes this year — two of them fatal.

This time of year, WSP will be stepping up its emphasis patrols on riders.

“Going into the summer, that’s one of the things that we are going to be focusing on, trying to prevent (accidents),” Dattilo said. “Just trying to educate people.”

And motorcyclists need education, or at least a yearly reminder, about lane splitting.

More on motorcycle riding in Washington: Motorcycle lane-splitting is still illegal

It is not legal in Washington. It has never been legal in Washington. It has been discussed by the legislature, but nothing has ever made it out of committee.

“We do not currently have a lane-splitting law in Washington,” Dattilo confirmed. “There are other states, like California, that allow it. We do not here in the state of Washington, but it’s also something that it’s extremely difficult to enforce because the patrol cars are also stuck in traffic. They can’t lane split.”

Not to mention lane-splitting can lead to road rage.

“We’ve seen collisions where people intentionally try to cut off the motorcycles because they’re frustrated,” Dattilo said.

WSP reported 53 motorcycle crashes in King County so far this year, and we are officially in the middle of the most dangerous months for fatal motorcycle accidents.

Advice for drivers: Double-check those blind spots when making lane changes. Pay close attention in slow traffic for riders in front of you as even a little bump from behind can cause serious injuries. And for motorcyclists: Don’t lane split. Don’t hot dog. And most importantly, don’t assume that drivers can see you or even know you are there.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints here. You can also follow Chris on X, formerly known as TwitterHead here to follow KIRO Newsradio Traffic’s profile on X.


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Sullivan: May through September is the most deadly period for motorcyclists