By Brian Hirt
I was on my lunch break when I heard a call come out from dispatch regarding a serious injury accident that occurred in our city. I quickly headed to the scene as I was the shift sergeant working on the street that evening. I arrived on the scene and was briefed by officers. I saw that a car had pulled out in front of a motorcycle and the car had failed to yield the right of way at the stop sign. The damage was so severe to the car that it spun the car over 180 degrees and there was severe crush from the motorcycle impact.
I saw the motorcycle driver being loaded into the ambulance and recognized him as one of my friends that I know from off road motorcycle racing. He was in his early 20s. EMS was quickly trying to stabilize him for transport. A short time after they arrived at the hospital I went there to see how he was doing. When I arrived, doctors were working on him trying to revive him. Their attempts were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead.
His parents arrived just as he was pronounced dead and brought to the emergency room. They were beyond upset. They couldn’t even stand up after learning that their son was dead. Many of his friends had gathered in the emergency room. I knew many of his friends as the off-road motorcycle family is a fairly tight group. I spoke with one of his friends who was also a good friend of mine. It was terrible to have to tell him how it happened. He was riding at an excessive speed based on the evidence at the accident scene and witness accounts.
The driver of the car was a young driver that did fail to yield to the motorcycle, however there was no doubt that excessive speed contributed to this collision. Not only is a motorcycle more difficult to see, but by travelling at such an excessive speed in a residential area, it makes a motorcycle even more difficult to see.
I have seen too many motorcycle collisions where speed has been a factor in a collision that led to a fatality. Many times people are more concerned with who is “at fault,” when many times it is a combination of both drivers. I am an avid motorcyclist and I also work a part time job as a motorcycle driver’s education teacher with the local community college.
I try to stress the importance of motorcyclists being defensive and to expect not to be seen by automobile drivers. I want motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians to understand the importance of being defensive and vigilant no matter who has the right of way. They are vulnerable and will ultimately pay the price in a collision with an automobile no matter who is “at fault.” I try to educate automobile drivers to tell them look for motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. If they look for them there is a better chance they will see them. Normally a person looks for a car only and forgets about smaller roadway users.
Brian Hirt is a Sergeant with the Hutchinson Police Department’s Traffic Bureau