Following Marion Man's Death, Should More be Done to Prevent Motorcycle-Related Fatalities?

Join in the conversation: Warmer weather may be behind a rash of motorcycle-related deaths, but should more be done to keep motorcyclists safe?

Editor's Note: Marion Patch ran this story earlier in the week, and the comments haven't stopped since. As you'll see, though, this isn't just a "Marion" story. It highlights the obvious dangers on roads everywhere.

We thought it'd be a good idea to share it with our other Iowa Patches to raise awareness and, hopefully, use this story as a reminder to be careful out there -- whether you're riding a motorcycle or driving a car or truck.

Here's the original story. We invite you to join in the conversation in the comments box below:

A Marion man's death last week was the seventh motorcycle-related fatality in eight days. 

After 40-year-old Marion resident Matthew Dunkel, who on Saturday, the Gazette has pointed out that since March 16 seven Iowans have lost their life in crashes involving motorcycles or mopeds.

Moreover, four have taken place since last Friday.

The Gazette spoke with Iowa State Patrol Trooper Bob Conrad, who said that the rash of accidents is likely due to the warming weather. 

In fact, because warm weather came so early compared to last year, the Gazette points out that it’s possible that Iowa could break 2011’s record of 35 motorcycle accident related deaths.

“There are people out there that aren’t going to have their family members this coming Christmas because of those crashes and we don’t want any more of that,” Conrad said to The Gazette.

Thirty-five may not sound like a lot, but it feels like a lot  to me after speaking with Dunkel’s grieving friends and coworkers.

Given the rash of motorcycle fatalities in the last 12 days alone, do you think something should be done to curb these deaths?

Alun Palmer March 29, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Various studies say that somewhere between 2/3 and 4/5 of motorcycle accidents are the fault of a car driver - so, if you invert that, the answer to YOUR question is that the RIDER is at fault in between 1/5 and 1/3 of the accidents.
rick lossner March 29, 2012 at 08:44 PM
@Alun : Which leads us to the second question. How many folks have died in automobile crashes to date?
Jon Brewer March 29, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Been riding thirty years and have avoided my fair share of accidents. Honestly seems to have increased with the new technologies distracting drivers ie, texting, etc... Also the number of new riders continue to go up, I think rider saftey courses should be required for motorcyle endorsment and driver safety should be required to get a dl. just sayin......
Scott Raynor (Editor) March 29, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Hey Jon, As I am a little naive about what exactly I should be doing when driving near motorcycles, aside from giving them the same amount of space as a car, what should I be doing to make sure I am not making things more dangerous for the bike driver?
Jim March 29, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Passing yet more superfluous laws to "protect" a motorcycle rider is insane!!! How about enforcing the ones that are already on the books! That's the key to reducing a lot of the nations woes. Stop selectively looking the other way or just choosing not to enforce the law. Throw the book at the little dweebs that insist on riding their sportbikes down the highway at 90 MPH on one wheel. After a few have had their motorcycles impounded and their motorcycle endorsements permanently revoked the word will get out. Texting & driving with an accident resulting that can be attributed to distracted driving? 3 years minimum revocation of driver's license. If a death results...PERMANENT NATIONAL revocation of the privilege to operate a vehicle with no hardship license possible! Grow some cajones, law enforcement! DO YOUR JOBS.
Larry Jones March 29, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Everyone thinks alcohol is the cause what about drugs or people eating or texting on there phone or women puting makeup on just watch for bikers easy as that
Larry Jones March 29, 2012 at 09:44 PM
you damn right Lisa
Larry Jones March 29, 2012 at 09:49 PM
yes them young guys who ride 90 down the road gives the other bikers a bad name
Larry Jones March 29, 2012 at 09:49 PM
yes them young guys who ride 90 down the road gives the other bikers a bad name
Emory F Goodrich March 29, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Brandon Marshall March 29, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Until there are stiffer penalties for vehicular homicide fatalities will continue to climb. If you kill someone due to reckless/ careless driving you should be charged with premeditated 1st degree murder. Just for an example let's say you pull out in front of someone and you kill them in the process. Pulling out in front of them was premeditated and they are dead because of your actions. I believe 90% of ALL accidents can be avoided if people would just slow down! Ride safe and God bless!
Shawndra March 29, 2012 at 11:55 PM
So TRUE....Let them HEAR US then!!!!
Terri Craig March 30, 2012 at 12:03 AM
@ Scott Raynor...Thank You! Thank you for asking what you need to do. We need MORE space than a car. If there is something on the road, for us it could cause us real problem. Enough problem that it could lay us down, that wouldn't happen in a car. If you are too close to the back of us...we will get hit. For us, we pay attention 4 seconds, and 12 seconds ahead of us. Cars need to do the same thing. There would be less accidents. When moving into another lane, look in your mirrors and over your shoulder, then do it ALL again. I know we are smaller on a motorcycle, but that doesn't make us less important. We have children, (I have 7, and 6 grandchildren) we are married, we have parents and siblings that love us very much. All we want is to enjoy the wind in our hair...these bikes are our release...they are what we have chosen for stress relief. No different than someone else picking golf or tennis for their stress relief. We aren't horrible people, all we ask is that everyone opens their eyes and pay attention to us. One more thing, please, please,please....STAY OFF YOU CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING, and these accidents will stop happening!!!!
Alun Palmer March 30, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Sorry, I don't know the answer to the second question. It's a fair thing to ask, though.
Alun Palmer March 30, 2012 at 02:46 AM
It's true that new laws won't do much, but if you actually read the stats far more bike accidents are caused by the other party than by the biker. Better education of all drivers and riders may help, but the biggest single factor in bike accidents is the car drivers rather than the bikers. Bikes need more space to stop and can lose stability due to defects in the road surface far more easily. Although they are harder to see, you need a BIGGER gap in front of a motorcycle before it is safe for you to pull into that gap, and you need to follow them at a LARGER distance. Observing these rules, plus DOUBLE-CHECKING when you pull out, can reduce these motorcycle fatalities more than anything else can, and certainly more than anything the bikers themselves can do differently.
Allen j bennett jr March 30, 2012 at 03:01 AM
I think a lot more should be done , much stronger laws should be put in place for hitting a motor cyclists . People need to wake up and realize every action has a reaction, people on motor cycles have a right to be on the road just as much as motorists in there cars . TO ALL MOTORISTS AND MOTOR CYCLISTS SLOW DOWN AND PAY ATTENTION AND SHOW EACH OTHER SOME RESPECT .
Tony Centrella March 30, 2012 at 03:15 AM
The fact of the matter is, bikers are out early this year because of the warm temps. Car drivers are not yet expecting to see bikes sharing the roads with them. Chances are most accidents are the fault of the car driver but that should be a warning to all bikers, be extra careful out there and trust no one. Don't pull into an intersection until you're sure of what the other drivers are going to do.
Todd Richissin March 30, 2012 at 03:27 AM
For us car drivers, I'm wondering what the solution is to make motorcyclists more safe -- as opposed to punishing drivers who cause them harm more harshly. Or do you motorcyclists think the harsher penalties will work to keep you more safe because of the deterrence factor? For me, I have to say, I think many car drivers are simply so accustomed to seeing huge, hulking pieces of cars and truck coming at them, that they don't as easily visually pick up the relatively smaller motorcycles. This is a great conversation, that I think can really do some good. I love that so many people have joined in.
Seth Long March 30, 2012 at 05:26 AM
Car drivers will never change. It's up to us motorcyclists to become more visible to cars. Black is the most common color for motorycle gear but it's also the least visible to cars. Statistics show that wearing a high visibility vest reduces your chance of a collision with a car by almost 40% and a white helmet by almost 25%. Put reflective tape on your gear and your bike to help being seen at night. Install headlight and brake light modulators. Do what ever you can to stand out.
Ralph Boone March 30, 2012 at 05:33 AM
Florida has passed the both wheels on the ground Law allready Jim and the fine is $750 to $1000 for first offense.. Didn't see much of it this year on the 120 mile trip to Daytona 200 .. Did have 3 Bikes pass my 80 mph bike doing Triple digits. Orange county sheriff had them pulled using their Bikes. (Not Harleys) Very sad look on the boys faces !
Ed Reiller March 30, 2012 at 10:43 AM
I wonder if there are any studies out that show that military personel are more likely, less likely, or equally as likely to get into motorcycle accidents. The reason that I ask is because these (outstanding) individuals are required by military code to wear high visability vests when they ride.
Scott Raynor (Editor) March 30, 2012 at 12:13 PM
It looks like it's possible that the intersection may share some of the blame. What do you think? http://marion.patch.com/articles/dot-investigating-intersection-of-motorcycle-crash-death
Nathan Wheat March 30, 2012 at 09:07 PM
They are also required to go through safety training (or at least had to when I was in the service).
Nathan Wheat March 30, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I was hit by a distracted driver one time. At least she was able to finish her phone call saying, "I have to go, I just hit someone." I don't know how you can regulate people paying attention. Living in a state that has winter is bad news for the bikers because people aren't used to seeing you year round.
Vickie March 30, 2012 at 10:47 PM
You can't regulate stupidity.. People of all ages that are driving out there need to pay attention to their driving. The recent NO TEXTING law is a fine example ..Everyday I see people still texting only now they hold the phones down so no one can see them. It should of been NO PHONES!! period.Yeah this is my opinion but I see these accidents that are so preventable but what usually happens ..Oh the press decides "If they had been wearing a helmet" Well I am here to tell ya. The helmet doesn't always change the outcome. People need to be aware..Yes early warm weather maybe but then again..Even in winter weather people getting struck as they walk , or in their cars by folks that just don't PAY ATTENTION!!! Please!!! Use some common sense..Watch what your doing when driving be prepared ...Give yourself that extra time to get where your going. For eveyone sake and yes the people on Motorcycles...
Sharon Ingram March 31, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Nathan Wheat, AF members are required to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Basic Rider Course to ride on base. They are als required to wear gloves, over the ankle boots, helmets, face shields or safety glasses, and a reflective vest. I am a MSF rider coach and it's amazing how much a rider can learn in the class. Even one who has been riding for years. I wish driver's Ed included Motorcycle safety, even if they never plan to ride. What I learned in my BRC made me a better auto driver.
kelly valentino March 31, 2012 at 09:23 AM
your right... cars trucks ride your ass we dont have the car lenth vs mph rule. ignorant stupid people cause most accidents.
Proud to be from Cedar Falls March 31, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Yes, car drivers need to become aware again as the weather warms up but we also need a helmet law I have to wear a seatbelt why is there no helmet law?
Erv Server March 31, 2012 at 06:19 PM
The safest motorcycle driving is not driving one at all. I gave up my ride several years ago. Doesn't matter how defensive you drive, how many laws you pass, or how much you beg car drivers to be alert. The risk is there.
Mark Cooper April 01, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Stay at least two car lengths behind a motorcycle when it is stopped. If you are rear ended and are to close to a motorcycle you will be driven into the bike in front of you and will probably kill the person on the bike.


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