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Fatal Illinois crashes dim joys of motorcycle riding season

Motorcycles appear on Illinois roads in full force in late spring and summer after riders are dulled by months of skill inactivity. Increased bike volume also surprises car and truck drivers who had the roads to themselves during months of unfavorable weather.

Motorcycle accidents tend to rise during this acclimatization of two-wheeled riders and drivers of larger vehicles. Law enforcement authorities and transportation officials say serious injuries and fatalities are frequently the result of rider and driver inattentiveness.

According to Illinois Department of Transportation officials, 148 statewide motorcycle-related fatalities were recorded last year. The number was not significantly higher than the previous year, but the figure was a substantial jump from 2010, when 131 motorcycle deaths were reported.

State laws do not require motorcycle riders to wear helmets, although authorities recommend them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the state had the highest nationwide percentage of helmetless motorcycle fatalities. Eighty-three percent of motorcycle crash victims was not wearing helmets.

The CDC also stated Illinois was at the low end for economic savings due to helmet use. Officials estimated helmets contributed to $8 million in savings for every 100,000 Illinois motorcycles in 2010. Only three states saved less than Illinois. Forty-six states saved more.

Several motorcycle fatalities have already been recorded in 2013. Among the victims was a Kane couple who died when the motorcycle they shared was struck by a pickup truck. The parents had been out collecting pictures for their son's high school prom.

A Rushville motorcyclist also lost his life when a teen truck driver failed to see the bike before pulling into an intersection. The teen was issued a citation for failure to yield.

The truck drivers may not face serious criminal charges for their actions. Both drivers could be liable in civil court, where juries may award family members compensation for wrongful deaths due to negligence.

Source:  myjournalcourier.com, "Motorcycle warnings go out as temps go up" Jake Russell, May. 18, 2013

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