OLD TOWN – So far, 2019 has been a deadly year for motorcycle riders.
Lou Fraser, Friend & Friend Orono manager, said he was almost killed on Tuesday.
“The light turns green and we all head out and this guy in a red Subaru comes right over to take my spot. I was right beside him,” Fraser said. “I moved over and looked at him like… ‘really?’
Orono resident Cappy Introne, who has been riding since the age of 15, said it takes more than a helmet to be safe when you’re riding on two wheels.
“You gotta drive defensively. I mean wicked defensively,” said Introne, who is taking a trip to Labrador on his bike next week. “Basically, I figure everybody is out trying to kill me so I just try and stay away from them.”
The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety is saying so far this year, there have been 19 fatal motorcycle crashes with a total of 21 deaths.
In comparison, there were 23 motorcycle fatals in all of 2018.
“They’ve got their face on the screen texting, or they’re on the phone or watching the GPS, and motorcycles are invisible,” Fraser said.
“It’s always been like that, it’s worse now,” he added later. “Because when I started riding 40-plus years ago it was like that but you didn’t have cell phones, people didn’t text. People had to drive. That’s the issue. People aren’t paying attention.”
The average age of the motorcycle drivers who have died this year on Maine roads is 43. Ten of the deadly incidents were single motorcycle crashes and nine involved more than one vehicle.
Most of the 2019 fatalities were during the day, and at least two involved drunk driving.
The state’s new hands-free law goes into effect next month and Fraser is hopeful.
“Maybe that will help. I don’t know,” he said. “Everybody is doing everything in the world, but driving.”
Public service announcements by the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety and United Bikers of Maine are currently running to educate both motorcycle drivers and those in vehicles.
The efforts are designed to stop the number from increasing.