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2 riders killed in motorcycle accident with turning school bus

Spring begins this month, whether or not Illinois weather accurately reflects the seasonal change. The expectation of good weather coincides with the anticipation of motorcycle riding season. Understandably, many Cook County motorcyclists are fair weather riders who return to the roads after long months of inactivity.

Car and truck drivers have had time to forget what it's like to share the road with motorcycles. Some drivers may neglect to adapt driving habits, like checking rear view and side mirrors for motorcycles before switching lanes. Long-unused driving or riding skills invite negligence and motorcycle accidents.

A recent fatal crash in a nearby state involved three motorcycles riding in a group and a school bus. Two male bike riders, ages 22 and 43, died when their motorcycles slammed into the side of the bus. The third motorcyclist was uninjured after being thrown from his bike, which fell over after striking accident debris.

The bus driver, an 8-year school district employee, was just starting a morning pickup run. No students were on board when the 52-year-old driver pulled out of the transportation department lot and attempted a left turn. Reports said the fatality investigation remains open.

Car and truck drivers who see motorcycles in traffic may misjudge the distance or speed of a bike. Drivers may assume, because motorcycles maneuver easily through traffic, riders also can steer nimbly out of a larger vehicle's way. Unfortunately, the realization that these assumptions may be untrue often occurs after a motorcyclist is seriously injured or dies.

State transportation officials reported 148 Illinois motorcycle fatalities in 2012; the death rate jumped 19 percent from 2009. Ninety-two percent of the 2012 fatalities were men. The majority of fatal crashes that year took place between March and September -- prime riding season.

Many victims who survive accidents suffer permanent disabilities. Motorcyclists injured by driver negligence may be eligible for substantial damages through liability claims.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Two killed when motorcycles collide with school bus in Wentzville" Kim Bell, Mar. 11, 2014

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