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Fatal motorcycle crashes on the rise in New York State

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Friday morning in Royalton. Last weekend in Niagara Falls. A month ago in Wheatfield.

Three motorcyclists dead in crashes just as the riding season opens.

Noting that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, state officials on Friday pointed to figures that illustrate an increase in deaths in motorcycle crashes across the state.

From 2019 to last year, the number of people killed in fatal motorcycle crashes rose 53 percent, according to data from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research at the University at Albany's Rockefeller College.

Though the 2021 data is considered preliminary, it shows 204 people were killed in 198 crashes involving motorcycles last year.

In 2019, 133 people were killed in 132 crashes. Most of those killed were drivers, though that figure does include passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

"The rise of fatal motorcycle crashes is a harsh reminder to both motorists and riders that we must share the road responsibly," State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder said in a news release. "The crash data we cite are not just numbers, they are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. I want everyone to enjoy New York’s beautiful riding season, but to do so safely and responsibly."

One of the latest fatal crashes involving a motorcyclist happened Friday morning on Fisk Road in Royalton, the Niagara County Sheriff's Office said.

A 911 caller reported the crash at 5:45 a.m. on Fisk, west of Wolcottsville Road, the Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

Deputies found the motorcycle overturned in a ditch. The operator, whose name was withheld, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The incident is being investigated by the Sheriff's Office's Accident Investigation Unit.

A 20-year-old motorcyclist from the Town of Tonawanda died after a collision in Niagara Falls on April 30. Westley Quintern died after an evening crash on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

Police said he was heading east when his motorcycle collided with a westbound vehicle whose driver was attempting to turn left onto 71st Street.

Michael Sommers, 39, of North Tonawanda, died April 13 when his motorcycle crashed into the back of an SUV on Niagara Falls Boulevard, just east of Sy Road, in Wheatfield.

Motorcyclists make up a disproportionate amount of those killed in crashes in New York and nationally.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die as a result of their injuries.

Last year, motorcycle crash fatalities made up more than 18% of all fatal crashes in the state, according to the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee.

Reach Aaron at abesecker[at] or 716-849-4602.

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