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Alberta sees 90% increase in fatal motorcycle crashes in 2020

Click to play video: 'Alberta sees 90% increase in fatal motorcycle crashes in 2020' Alberta sees 90% increase in fatal motorcycle crashes in 2020
May 1 marks the start of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, Alberta saw a 90 per cent increase in fatal motorcycle accidents in 2020 – May 1, 2021

There was a dramatic jump in the number of people killed in motorcycle collisions in 2020 according to a provincial safety group.

According to statistics gathered by the Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society (AMSS), there were 21 motorcycle fatalities last year in the province. That’s up from 11 in 2019.

“To have a jump like that is heartbreaking,” AMSS president Liane Langlois said.

Langlois said at the start of the pandemic roads were empty, which may have changed driver behaviour.

“It kind of opened up the streets to be a bit of a speedway. A lot of the collisions that we saw were related to speed factors and loss of control and not paying attention for the rider,” she added. “All of those things. It just takes one tiny little thing for you to lose your focus on a bike and it can go all wrong for you.”

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Langlois said 70 per cent of those 21 deadly incidents were single-vehicle crashes. Those tragic results mean the AMSS will be focusing on behaviour within their own community as they launch their annual campaign Sunday morning. It will include speakers from the Calgary police, EMS and the provincial government.

Read more: Alberta Motorcycle Safety Society prepares for 2021 campaign

The AMSS also just launched a new safety podcast last month.

Saturday marked the first day of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. It was also the first day of classes this season at Wheels Training Centre in southeast Calgary.

The excitement of the new riders was tempered by the horrible crash west of Calgary this past week.

“It makes me sick to my stomach,” John Deziel, a student of Wheels Training Centre, said. “Not only from a motorcycle standpoint, which is where I amt, but just the families who have lost a member — it’s heart-wrenching.”

Read more: 2 men killed in motorcycle crash on Highway 1A near Cochrane

On Monday, a head-on collision happened on Highway 1A between two motorcyclists. Two men were killed. Another rider was injured trying to steer clear.

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Garry McConnell has been teaching motorcycle safety for nearly a quarter-century and is the owner of Wheels Training Centre. He warns his students that bikes can be invisible to drivers. His friend was killed by a truck making a left turn.

“It was very unfortunate but that driver said to the police, ‘I didn’t see the bike,'” McConnell said.

Another memory he can’t shake is witnessing a fellow rider being struck and injured while stopped at a train crossing.

“The fellow behind us who was not part of our group, he had both feet down off his bike and he was lighting up a cigarette and a car came from behind and did not see him and rear-ended him. He literally flew over us and landed on the trunk of the car in front of us,” McConnell said.

Read more: ‘We were so proud of him’: Friends rally around family of Calgary man killed in motorcycle crash

McConnell said these tragedies reinforce his message to student riders to be hyper-alert, assume drivers don’t see you and don’t treat the roads like your personal race track.

“We teach how to be a smart and safer rider. Unfortunately, you will pay the ultimate price if you do something stupid like not looking left or right before going through an intersection,” McConnell said.

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