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Driving defensively: Tips from police and riders as motorcycle season revs up

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Ontario Provincial Police are asking drivers to stay alert as the warmer weather means more motorcyclists are hitting the road.

Over the last 10 years, there were 370 fatal crashes involving motorcycles on OPP-patrolled roads. In those crashes, the driver of the other vehicle was at fault 54 per cent of the time. Motorcyclists were to blame for the remaining 46 per cent.

Police said, if the collision is between a car and a motorcycle, the person on the bike is usually the one injured.

“There's nothing. They have no seatbelts, they have no air bags. They have nothing to protect them from the road and other vehicles if they end up in a collision,” OPP Const. Scott Stratton said in an interview with CTV News.

In many cases, the motorcyclist is the driver’s blind spot.

“If you’re a motorcycle rider, you should be riding with caution, assuming that nobody can see you on the road and drive defensively,” Stratton warned.

Recent crashes

On Tuesday night, a motorcyclist was airlifted from the Conestoga Boulevard and Pinebush Road intersection in Cambridge after they were involved in a collision with an SUV. The motorcyclist suffered serious injuries but the driver of the SUV wasn’t hurt.

A few weeks before that, there was another crash in Cambridge involving a motorcycle and SUV.

A 64-year-old Cambridge man had serious injuries and had to be airlifted to hospital, while the SUV driver, 58, was not hurt. At the time, the Waterloo Regional Police Service anticipated laying charges in the crash but didn’t say who was at fault.

A motorcycle is damaged on the street after a crash in Cambridge on May 10, 2024. (CTV News/Dan Lauckner)

Both parties need to stay alert when out on the roads, say police.

“Especially with turns, because a lot of the collisions we have with motorcycles involve people turning in front of them,” WRPS Staff Sgt. Scott Griffiths explained.

Gear matters

Staff at Royal Distributing Inc. in Guelph believe the right gear could save lives.

It starts with wearing a certified motorcycle helmet.

“Full-faced helmets are usually the safest, verses the half helmets or three quarters,” said store manager Tracy Virgin.

A lined and reflective jacket, thick pants, secure gloves, and footwear with the right ankle support are also key when riding a motorcycle.

Motorcycle helmets at Royal Distributing Inc. (Heather Senoran/CTV Kitchener)

In a crash, hitting the pavement unprotected could cause a lot of damage.

“The asphalt can get hot. If it’s super sunny out, it’s going to burn your skin,” Virgin explained.

Desmond on a motorcycle on May 23, 2024.

Desmond, a motorcyclist from Kitchener, stopped at the Guelph store on his first ride of the season.

He’s been riding for eight years and feels lucky he’s never been in a collision.

“You try to anticipate what the driver in front of you is going to do, and then three drivers in front of them,” Desmond said. 

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