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Motorcycle injuries and fatalities on the rise: Ford

Reckless riding could be responsible for a spike in motorcycle-related injuries and fatalities across the country, Toronto orthopaedic spine and trauma surgeon Dr. Michael Ford tells AdvocateDaily.com.

News website Insauga reports that 2017 was a landmark year for motorcycle fatalities in Ontario, passing previous years' tallies before the summer was out. In the end, the OPP recorded 48 deaths, the highest annual total in a decade.

Meanwhile, further west, the CBC recently reported on statistics from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) which revealed 1,600 motorcyclists were injured in 2,600 incidents last year, up from 1,500 the previous year. 

Ford says the statistics line up with what he has seen, both in the operating room and on the roads.

“We’ve been getting bigger numbers coming in with spinal trauma and other significant injuries,” he says. “I’ve also seen people racing on the 407. You get people going along at 140 km/h doing wheelies, which is a pretty shocking thing to see.”   

Ford says those kinds of risky behaviours are a likely contributor to the spike in accident numbers, and may also explain why he has recently seen a number of bike-on-bike crashes that result in more than one serious injury.  

“Stunt driving and alcohol impairment are big problems,” he adds.  

Over the years, Ford says the demographics of injury victims have shifted significantly.

“Typically, you expect to see young male drivers, and we still do, but we also have many older couples getting hurt,” he says. “After a husband and wife retire, they’re going out and buying a Harley Davidson so they can tour the country. That’s something that was not so prevalent in previous years.”

In addition, Ford says better helmets and technological advances have helped improve survival rates for those involved in two-wheel accidents.  

“Expeditious transport to places like Sunnybrook Hospital means people can get to us before they die, but they will often have significant permanent injuries,” he explains.

On its website, the ICBC lists a number of tips for motorcyclists for improving their safety on the road:

  • Practice emergency braking and obstacle avoidance: Brush up on core skills in safe places like empty parking lots, especially if it’s your first time riding in a while.
  • Be seen: Stay out of drivers’ blind spots.
  • Watch drivers for clues: Don’t assume they’ve seen you or will give way to you, as they may not accurately judge your distance or speed.
  • Use your signals: This allows drivers to anticipate your next move and react in a timely fashion.
  • Plan your path prior to a curve: Adjust your lane position and speed to exit smoothly after determining where you want to go.

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