This hashtag that began a tweet Saturday afternoon was meant to catch attention. It came from Washington State Patrol Trooper Rick Johnson.
“#Alarming as @wastatepatrol in King County has investigated three motorcycle collisions in the past couple days. Two of which resulted in fatalities and the most recent one today in critical injuries. These were rider causing. #RideSafely #HaveYourEndorsement.”
It’s well documented that motorcycle fatalities are substantially more frequent than auto fatalities. In 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they were 28 times more frequent. In 2017, the most recent year data is available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 5,172 motorcyclists died in crashes, more than twice as many as in 1997.
The accidents jump dramatically as the weather improves, said Johnson, a public information officer for the agency, who gets to send out the news about such incidents.
“We’re not a year-round riding area,” he said. And so you get motorcyclists who haven’t ridden one of the machines for a while.
The most recent accident took place around 8:30 a.m. Saturday, as nine bikes were on Interstate 5, and one lost control at the Southcenter exit, Johnson said. The driver was thrown from the motorcycle and taken to Harborview Medical Center with critical injuries. The patrol later reported the cause of the accident was an unsafe lane change.
Troopers said another motorcycle in the group collided with a third motorcycle during the process of trying to avoid the crash. One of drivers fled the scene, according to the State Patrol.
The other two crashes occurred toward the end of the week on Highway 167.
In one, a 28-year-old motorcyclist was killed shortly after midnight Thursday in Kent when he ran into the back of a construction vehicle and his bike burst into flames upon impact.
In the other accident, Johnson said, two motorcyclists were riding together Friday at about 3:50 p.m. on Highway 167 near Pacific, “when the first motorcyclist went down and the second motorcyclists ran over the first rider.”
The first rider was killed and the second was hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening, Johnson said.
Johnson himself doesn’t ride a motorcycle.
“Heck, no,” he said. “I’m not interested.”
But he has a son who rides a Harley-Davidson.
“I make sure I tell him about every motorcycle wreck,” he said. Johnson said his son is a safe rider.