Summer in Washington State is peak season for motorcycle riding, but unfortunately, summertime is also when more riders are killed or injured in motorcycle crashes. An average of 75 people die each year while riding a motorcycle in Washington, and more than half of those fatal collisions occur in a three-month period during spring and early summer.
In an effort to reduce these collisions, increased motorcycle safety patrols will be in place from July 5th through July 21st this year. In addition to the increased safety patrols in Pierce, King, and Snohomish County, there will also be increased safety patrols during three of the state’s largest weekend motorcycle events, including:
- ABATE Spring Opener in Easton, WA — June 27-30, 2019
- Bikers at the Beach in Ocean Shores, WA (unofficial event) — July 26-28, 2019
- Oyster Run in Anacortes, WA — September 21-22, 2019
Washington’s High Visibility Enforcement Program (HVE) gives law enforcement a chance to focus their efforts on enforcing violations that are commonly seen in collisions in certain locations around the state.
What Violations Are Law Enforcement Officers Looking For?
From 2013-2017 in our state, motorcycles made up just 3% of the registered vehicles, but accounted for nearly 15% of all traffic fatalities (373 of 2,550). Many people believe that other drivers on the road cause these fatal crashes, but the fact is 75% of fatal motorcycle crashes are due to rider error. By focusing on and enforcing certain violations, law enforcement officers hope to prevent serious collisions and injuries by getting violators off the road so the average commuter can get where they need to be safely. During high visibility enforcement, officers will be looking for the following violations:
- Speeding. The faster you travel, the higher the possibility of collision. When you speed, you have less time to react to hazards and it becomes harder for others to see you, lessening their reaction time. 50% of all fatal crashes involve speed or lane departure.
- Aggressive Driving. When people hear “road rage”, the extreme characteristics associated with aggressive driving usually come to mind, but even simple maneuvers like failing to signal, tailgating or lane blocking can have deadly outcomes.
- Seatbelt Violations. One of the safest things drivers and passengers can do is buckle up. Failing to use your seatbelt can result in being totally ejected from the vehicle in the event of a crash. 95% of Washington drivers and passengers use their seatbelt, but that leaves 5% at extreme risk.
- Cell Phone Use. Any non-driving activity is a potential distraction while driving, but texting has become one of the biggest distractions on the road. The sad reality is that distracted driving claims roughly nine lives per day in the U.S. — approximately 3,500 per year.
- Driver Impairment. Driving under the influence weakens your coordination and reaction time. Alcohol and drug impairment account for more than half of all motorcycle fatalities and marijuana has become a larger contributing factor in recent years. Impaired riding threatens your safety and the safety of others around you.
Law enforcement officers aren’t targeting motorcycle riders or anyone specifically, but are instead looking to see where and when collisions are happening. Crash data guides the locations and times to enforce traffic violations. High visibility enforcement is education and media combined with law enforcement efforts to change dangerous driver behaviors and reduce serious traffic crashes.
It’s A Fine Line is an inclusive community of motorcycle riders advocating one common mission: zero motorcycle deaths by 2030. These and all extra law enforcement patrols are part of Target Zero. We want to share videos and stories about motorcycle events, rides, clubs, gear, safety and training because we believe that together we can save the lives of our friends, our families and our communities.