Expert rider talks about safety after fatal crash
COLUMBIA - Ron Schieferdecker has been riding motorcycles since he was eight years old. The Mid-America Harley-Davidson general sales manager rides his bike from Jefferson City to Columbia almost every day and said he is aware of the dangers.
“We know that there is an inherent risk involved with riding on two wheels,” he said. “That’s a risk we’re willing to take.”
A motorcycle driver was killed when he struck a truck in north Columbia Monday, drawing new attention to the need for drivers to be aware of motorcycles.
Police said 50-year-old James E. Markey was riding down Business Loop 70 when a pick up truck turned in front of him at Parkade Boulevard. The resulting collision ejected Markey and he sustained fatal injuries even though he was wearing a legally required helmet.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol from 2005- 2014 there were 881 fatal crashes involving motorcycles in Missouri, with a high of 103 in 2008.
Schieferdecker said the blame isn’t on one category of drivers.
“It’s not just a car or a motorcycle issue. It’s more about being aware of your surroundings,” he said. “When you’re driving a car, you are in something that can cause bodily harm, possibly even death to another person, whether they are in a car or on a motorcycle.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website lists common reasons motorists may overlook motorcycles and violate their right of way:
• Motorcycles and their riders are a relatively small component of the total traffic mix. Therefore, their visual recognition is reduced.
• Many drivers do not anticipate routine encounters with motorcyclists in traffic.
• Motorcycles are smaller visual targets and are more likely to be obscured.
One tip Schieferdecker has for motorcyclists is to stay as close to the center stripe as possible.
“It shows you more presence,” he said. “You’re more visible to people.”
The NHTSA says riders should also use lights, even during the daytime and wear bright colors and reflective gear.
The website says other common causes of collisions with motorcycles include:
• Automobiles have obstructions and blind spots that can obscure or hide a motorcycle and rider. These include door pillars, passengers’ heads, and areas not visible in the mirrors.
• Other conditions affecting the vehicle—such as precipitation, glare, and cargo—can further impair a driver’s view and obscure motorcyclists.
• Objects and environmental factors beyond the vehicle, including other vehicles, roadside objects, and light patterns can make it more difficult for drivers to identify motorcyclists in traffic.
Schieferdecker said drivers should remember motorcyclists are at a distinct disadvantage when there is a collision.
"When you're in a vehicle, nobody wants to get into an accident, but at least when you're in a car, you have a cage around you to protect you. When you're on a motorcycle, that's not the case," he said.