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What's Behind The Spike In Bay Area Motorcycle Crashes?

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Halfway through this Thursday's morning commute, KCBS traffic reporter Kim Wonderley asked, "What's going on here?"

She was referring to a growing list of crashes involving motorcyclists. Between 5:30 and 9 AM on Thursday, California Highway Patrol logs recorded 14 incidents involving motorcycles on Bay Area freeways. Eight of those crashes reportedly involved injuries.

A check of CHP logs for the same "relative date"--the Thursday morning commute before Labor Day weekend--over the previous three years shows a dramatic jump in 2015. Last year saw just one motorcycle crash, 2013 produced four (all involving possible injuries), and in 2012, the Bay Area morning commute showed six incidents involving motorcycles, none producing a reported injury.

Interviewed by KCBS about the 2015 crash total, motorcycle safety expert Steven Guderian said, "That's high."  Guderian is a former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highway safety specialist who now operates a private motorcycle safety consultancy.

Investigators haven't reported on the cause of any of the most recent crashes, but Guderian says it's reasonable to question that practice of lane-splitting. "Lane-splitting and lane-sharing are only designed for slower speeds," Guderian told KCBS.

He went on to say that research reveals that lane-splitting while driving  "seven to 10 miles per hour miles faster than traffic increases the risk exponentially."


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