Motorcycle deaths rise in L.A. County

LOS FELIZ, Calif. One of the first motorcycle fatalities of 2009 happened in West Covina on Jan. 7. The accident was part of a trend of motorcycle-related deaths. The numbers are going up dramatically.

"We're pretty certain that the numbers are going to increase," said /*CHP Officer Terry Liu*/. "The past couple of years have shown that the number of injuries, as well as the number of fatalities involving motorcyclists, have been on the rise."

The CHP is still working on the final numbers, but it appears in /*Los Angeles County*/ alone, 96 bikers died in crashes in 2008, compared to 85 people in 2007 and 58 deaths back in 2001.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of people riding motorcycles. There are now about 1.2 million licensed bikers.

"For the last 10 to 12 years, motorcycle sales have been on the rise, so with more motorcycles on the road, unfortunately there may be a correlating increase in crashes," said Robert Gladden, /*Motorcycle Safety Foundation*/.

Robert Gladden is a director at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. They have courses for all drivers to make motorcycling safer and more enjoyable.

"Motorcycling requires quite a bit of skill," said Gladden. "So that's why it's important to take a class to hone those skills. But you made ride with people that are a lot better, you may ride with people who are a little slower, so each person needs to ride at a pace that is safe for them."

Officials say the 10 Freeway is one of the more dangerous stretches of highway. An accident last week occurred on the 10 just east of the 605 Freeway.

In collisions with vehicles, a biker rarely survives. Officials say since it is legal for motorcycles to split lanes, all of us need to be more careful when we see a motorcycle heading our way.

"It is easier and quicker for motorcycles to get in and out of lanes," said Officer Liu. "So we need to be cautious that they are there. They may be there even if they're in our blind spots and we can't see them. We just need to make sure and take extra caution before we make that lane change over to the left or to the right."



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