After a tragedy, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is warning drivers in the state to share the roads with motorcyclists. Last month, an SUV struck a group of five motorcycles, including a retired firefighter who was killed, and eight others, who were injured.
The accident reportedly occurred around 11:30 a.m. on April 11 when the SUV crossed the center line on U.S. 81 near Comanche and collided with five motorcycles that were traveling together.
At this point, it is unknown why the driver veered into the southbound lane, but safety officials want to use the tragedy to warn drivers to watch for motorcycles as the weather warms up and there are more of them out on the highways.
Additionally, it was revealed at a Motorcycle Safety Awareness Day rally earlier this month that motorcycle deaths are on the rise so far this year after a significant decline last year.
From January through April this year, there were 19 motorcycle fatalities in Oklahoma, which is a large increase from the six fatalities that occurred during the same timeframe last year.
The supervisor of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol motorcycle division said the No. 1 thing motorists can do to help avoid a motorcycle accident is to pay attention. All it takes is looking away for a couple of seconds -- such as glancing at a cellphone -- to cause a fatality.
A spokesman for the highway patrol said that the driver of the SUV who caused the April 11 fatality could face criminal charges depending on the outcome of blood tests.
It is also certainly possible that the driver could face liability in personal injury claims, even if he or she wasn’t impaired, since it appears that the driver was negligent, at the very least.