Monday Briefing: What’s the #1 cause of fatal motorcycle crashes?

I’ve twice taken a defensive driving class, and not a day goes by that I’m not reminded of some of the tricks of driving I learned during those long days in church basements.

Whether I’m on the highway, in a parking lot or approaching an intersection, I’m constantly using my defensive driving skills.

But I don’t remember discussing motorcycle safety much in those classes, specifically when it comes to sharing the road with motorcyclists. Even today, I can’t say I think much about motorcycles when I’m out and about.

I know I’m not alone, as there were two notable crashes involving cars and motorcycles this weekend in Suffolk County.

One happened Saturday night, when a driver turned in front of a 19-year-old motorcyclist, Joe Manglaviti, on Route 58 in Riverhead. Mr. Manglaviti was airlifted from the scene and underwent surgery at Stony Brook University Medical Center to repair a fractured leg.

He’s recovering in the hospital, surrounded by friends and family.

A biker in Huntington Sunday night was not as lucky. The yet-to-be-identified man was headed north on Park Avenue when a female motorist in a Toyota Camry who was heading south on the same road turned in front of him while she was trying to make a left onto Jericho Turnpike.

He died at the scene.

We’ve been trained to look for cars as we’re turning left across traffic, but not for bikes. Bikes sometimes blend into the landscape. So if you and I make one adjustment behind the wheel, it should be to take heed of this #1 driving tip when it comes to driving with motorcycles: look twice.

“When making left turns, look for traffic. Then look AGAIN for bikers!” reads an entry on on sharing the road with bikers.

“I put the #1 motorcycle safety tip first,” the entry reads. “The vast majority of car vs. bike accidents happen in intersections when a car turns right in front of a biker. You can imagine how this turns out for the motorcycle rider. It is imperative, before making a left turn, to be sure traffic is clear. Then look again specifically for motorcycles! Vehicles turning in front of motorcycles is the number one cause of fatal accidents for motorcycle riders.

“Please, look twice and save a life!

Click here for a short list of safety tips on sharing the road with motorcycles. Some advice, such as “let them swerve,” may surprise you.

• The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Juniper headed out Saturday to the site where the RMS Titanic went down in the Atlantic Ocean exactly 100 years ago to the day. There, Coast Guard members scattered 1.5 million dried rose petals over the sea for the 1,517 people who died, and paused for a moment of silence.

Click here for the video and high resolution photos.

• On a lighter note, check out this slide show of a goat dairy at Goodale Farms in Aquebogue. The smiles on these goats’ faces are sure to put one on yours.

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