City Government

Motorcycles Are Deadliest Ride In Boise

Deadly ride.
–BPD Photo


Here’s a shocker. So far in 2017, FOUR TIMES as many people were killed in motorcycle crashes in Boise than in cars.

Concerned with the number of fatal accidents in Boise (four so far in October) the GUARDIAN joined forces with Boise coppers to check the number and type of crashes.

There has been a total of 14 fatal traffic crashes–DOUBLE the total for all of 2016.

The majority of fatal crashes have involved motorcycles. There were ZERO motorcycle fatalities in 2016, but 2017 is proving to be carnage for the motorcycles with 8 deaths.

Here is the 2017 year-to-date break down comparison with 2016 totals in parentheses.

Vehicle: 2 (2)
Motorcycle: 8 (0)
Pedestrian: 3 (4)
Bicyclist: 1 (1)

Total fatals for 2017 is 14 compared to 7 for all of 2016.

BPD Capt. Ron Winegar, himself a former motorcycle copper, heads up the patrol division and offered this caution: “While driving is such a familiar action for most adults, you can never take it for granted. We all need to make an effort to focus only on driving when we get behind the wheel. Put down the devices, follow the speed limit and rules of the road. If alcohol has been a part of your day or night, make sure you get a ride from someone who hasn’t been drinking. We want to make sure everyone gets home safely to their loved ones.”

Statewide fatalities are actually down on a year to date basis. In 2016 there were 206 fatals year-to-date vs 192 in 2017. However, motorcycle deaths stand at 25 so far with 23 for all of 2016.

Perhaps the most telling figure shows there were 12 cycle deaths in June of this year versus 4 in June 2016.

Comments & Discussion

25 comments for “Motorcycles Are Deadliest Ride In Boise”

  1. Death Ratio
    Oct 18, 2017, 6:18 pm

    Your 2:1 ratio is a misrepresentation when factoring in number of car miles traveled vs. motorbike miles traveled the death ratio is many times steeper.

    Distraction + Risk Taking = Death: Stand at anyplace with a good view onto passing cars and you will see at least half focused on a phone. Bikers are doing the same, but less often. Bikers see cars as obstacles in their path. They use their zoom factor and small profile to weave past; often resulting in unaware drivers closing the door on the narrow path they are committed too at speed. Insurance on bikes way cheaper than it should be.

    Road death seems to increase during prospering economies.

    EDITOR NOTE–I was leery of readers getting into the math when I posted this. The death rate for motorcycles is ultra-extreme just based on the number of cars on the road vs the number of motorcycles.

  2. I'm a driver
    Oct 18, 2017, 7:28 pm

    In a car I have had a few instances in the past months that lead me to ask the question, ‘Are all the rude Idaho drivers former Utah rude drivers?”

    That is an old joke.

    People need to slow down, signal, allow others to merge, and end the practice of tailgating.

    But we’re preaching to the choir here, right?

    Someone needs to widely distribute information about good driving. It is getting worse as people try to speed through traffic. I guarantee that you do not have enough insurance if you are in a wreck with a distracted driver. More time for normal travel is required.

    Oh well.

  3. Death Ratio
    Oct 18, 2017, 9:43 pm

    Wondering why yet again yet another crusty old fatso on the fat bike is riding on my bumper with the high-beam shining in my left side mirror. There are 50+ cars in front of us, he can see them too, what’s his point? He can’t possibly stop that hunk of Wisconsin crud near as fast as the car he tailgates. His headlight constantly in my mirror for several miles is giving me a very low opinion of him. Is it intentional disrespect for car drivers? Sure seems to be.

  4. Traffic fatalities rose 14.4% in just 2016. I’ve been number crunching and the largest spikes are in areas where police no longer enforce traffic safety laws. Boise is a perfect example – it was the best place to drive in just a couple years ago but today is worse than major cities like Philadelphia. Red light runners at every intersection, aggressive driving, speeding, etc. Cause and Effect. If you want fatalities to reduce then support our local peace keepers again and push for them to enforce laws.

  5. For as long as motorcycles and cars have shared the road, emergency responders have heard the lament, “I didn’t see him!” The smaller profile of a motorcycle makes them harder to see – especially for motorists who are mostly focused on their dashboard “infotainment centers” or their handheld gizmos.

    One of the side-effects is “crusty old fatsos on fat bikes with high beam shining.” Motorcycles sold in the USA have always-on headlights (not necessarily high beam)… theoretically to enhance visibility.

    Motorcycle riders tend to be their own worst enemies. They dress in black, or alternatively in cutoffs and flip-flops … they don’t wear brain-buckets … they ride as though they are immortal and have the skills of an elite MotoGP rider. (Especially after they’ve had a few brewskies.) And they do their best to offend other citizens with lots of noise and boorish behavior. I’m unfairly stereotyping… but y’all have seen the ones I’m talking about!

    One real tragedy is how many motorcycle crashes are single-vehicle mishaps. Motorcycle riders tend to overestimate their skills, or don’t have the experience to handle an unexpected situation.

    I’ve been riding motorcycles for over fifty years now. (Legally… a couple years more, if you count the years when I was illegally young.) In well over 100,000 miles, I’ve never had a crash with another vehicle. (I flew off the side of a twisty mountain road once… that’s a whole ‘nother story.)

    My safety practices:
    – I wear an ugly dayglo green jacket (or something else that’s high-visibility) and a helmet.
    – I obey traffic laws, and try to ride predictably.
    – (Most importantly) I scan the horizon 180 degrees in front of me, and keep an eye on the rearview mirrors. Anything else that’s moving… if it’s within 100 feet, I consider it a potential immediate hazard, and try to anticipate an escape route.

    I would PLEAD with motorists to put their “smart phones” down when they are driving! They are killing us! (Read more HERE.)

    Be safe! And thanks for indulging my long-windedness.

  6. This is off topic but you should do an article on texting and driving. Not a scientific survey here but I swear I’m seeing a third to half of all drivers not just on the phone but looking at their phone.

    It’s amazing there aren’t more accidents. Are stats being kept? How would we know if cops aren’t asking every driver in a fender bender to show their text/phone log. Even then, they could say they texted immediately after the accident.

    49-1401A is a useless paper tiger. No points and no ding to one’s insurance.

    EDITOR NOTE–Check our editorial history! http://boiseguardian.com/?s=texting Most recently ISP conducted informal survey at our request in January http://boiseguardian.com/2017/01/08/technology-is-killing-us/

  7. The numbers alone don’t say much.
    What is the reason, as in, what was the situation leading to those 8 fatal crashes?

  8. Clancy Anderson
    Oct 19, 2017, 2:49 pm

    I agree with Easterner that isolated statistics do not lead to good conclusions. Those number alone just place blame on the victim. I can tell you that the pedestrian and cyclist fatalities probably had a vehicle involved.

    EDITOR NOTE–The issue is SAFETY, not statistics! Motorcycles don’t have safety belts or airbags. A bump that would dent car fenders will take off the leg of a cyclist whether pedaling or motoring. The shear numbers of cars vs cycles sends warning flags when so many cycle drivers die. What’s up? Last year year no cycle fatals, this year 8!

  9. It’s seems to me as I drive around the big city of Boise a number of things have happened since the good old days.
    1. Much more road construction that makes people mad and upset because they will be late for work. Also when you have road construction it makes other traffic lanes busier.

    2. Many more young mom driving kids to school. Back in my Adams grade school, High school days most kids rode the bus. Gosh I’ll bet I can count on one hand the Sophomores that had a car. One was the Hessings that father had a car dealership.

    3. Confusing turn signals and road signs. Whey you talk to people from out of town they have no clue what those yellow arrows mean instead of the protected green arrows.

    4. Many many more people from out of state.

    5. With the boom in construction you see many more heavy trucks and trailers. Most seem to be in a hurry to get to the job site and then to get home,

    6. Like one of the poster said if you look at the cars I bet 50% are on the phone or texting. I really don’t think those new hands free phones that cars have really help. Your mind is not on the road.

    7. And into this mix you throw bikes and motorbikes that ( mostly motorbikes) that also are driving aggressive and as I saw this morning a motorbike rider that was texting and smoking.

    I have no solution… and I don’t think passing a no cell law will help. People just need to slow down and maybe leave early to get to work on time? Bikes and motorbikes will always lose in a wreck with a car.

  10. I called the mayors office concerned about how dangerous our roads have become. The high speeds and aggressive driving has now made it into our neighborhoods from the major roads. Growth and out of town drivers shouldn’t be excuses.
    Officer Fleming, with the BPD, informed me that the city puts 10 police officers out every day on bikes, motor cycles and cars to enforce the rules of the road. Other officers driving around have other obligations and if they decide to enforce rules of the road they may. Based on the comments police officers should be required to enforce the laws as opposed to deciding if they want to. Sounds like we are all concerned about the safety of our neighborhoods and streets. ARE OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS?

  11. Mississippi Queen
    Oct 20, 2017, 7:31 am

    If you ride a motorcycle, you have to watch out for yourself. That is your responsibility as a rider.
    Nobody else on the road cares about you.

    If you ride your motorcycle, and you are a complete jerk, riding dangerously, going to fast, and if you happen to die, that is also the fault of the motorcycle rider.

    That was the case in most of the fatalities this year.

  12. Clancy Anderson
    Oct 20, 2017, 9:20 am

    Frank, “High speeds and aggressive driving” Road design has alot to say how people drive. Look how wide streets like Adams St(Garden City) or S. Cole are being designed. The wide design encourages excessive speed. While we rely on the city police for enforcement, we should be taking our concerns about design to ACHD.

  13. Clancy is on the right trail, as usual. Road design and conditions are a big part of safety.

    That is why looking at these fatal cases, might bring evidence of where the design or function reduces our safety. For example, if 3 of them are in an intersection with the crazy flashing yellow (as Porcupine indicates in #3 & #1), then we know that feature is increasing the risk of a crash- which I believe it is. Or if some of them have a right-hand turn involved… then a solution can be determined.
    Pretty simple when trends or patterns start to appear.

    There are MANY examples where ACHD has hosed the design aspect of our roads. If the driver is familiar with the nuance, then it works out fine; but if the driver is unfamiliar then it becomes a dangerous situation.

    The construction aspect under ACHD’s authority is equally unsafe in many cases- the Victor Haskell case is a prime example. How the contractor and ACHD skated out of that with no liability is beyond my legal expertise.

    Between ACHD, Boise Police, City Council and ourselves as stupid drivers, it is a wonder we are not all dead or injured.
    God help us on the roads!

  14. Easterner – so you are in the legal profession? Lawyer, judge, elected official?

    EDITOR NOTE–Actually Easterner is a fisherman. He often trolls among the GUARDIAN readers. He has enough luck that we enjoy the interest he generates.

  15. Good job Guardian! So why not find the numbers of traffic officers in 2007 (or pick any dates) and compare that with the accident rate. I happen to know that BPD had a very active motor and traffic unit under previous leadership but that the number of officers has dwindled with the excuse that they are short staffed. I also heard that this included eliminating the only full time position who worked on crash reconstruction. All while numbers drastically rise. Since you still have to go handle these accidents, with your “short staff”, isnt that “short sighted”?

    EDITOR NOTE–There are new recruits in the pipeline, but without some rather sophisticated research, it is hard to determine a single reason (or two) for the spike in deaths, especially for cycles. Hopefully this post will stimulate that research.

  16. Cynic- You say that number of officers dwindled in traffic because of being short staffed.

    That is like saying the bread is burned because it was burned.

    The pay for officers may not be as fair her as other municipalities. That is the dwindle?

  17. That’s the excuse used by the administration. The truth is that they have prioritized other things over traffic enforcement/accident investigation. Things like a full time mascot dog. There isn’t an issue with the pay being too low.

  18. TimeToShine
    Oct 22, 2017, 1:01 pm

    Sounds like it is time to “Drain the Swamp.” Can’t be too difficult, the admin sits high above others.

  19. Clancy Anderson
    Oct 23, 2017, 4:13 pm

    Here is the most recent statewide crash reports from ITD for 2015. Lots of numbers go up and down, but the averages are what matter. http://apps.itd.idaho.gov/apps/ohs/Crash/15/Analysis2015final.pdf

  20. I’m not ready to blame ACHD for the reckless driving and lack of enforcement in the treasure valley. That’s like blaming Albertson’s blue turf on BAD calls by refs while they’re working a game and texting.

  21. Frank, so you are ready to blame the police for “lack of enforcement”? Okay.

    Try this out:
    “Road design automatically, either increases or decreases user safety”.

    ACHD & ITD are either good at it, neutral, or bad it.
    I vote “not so good”.

    Unfortunately the legal standard is weak as it is “reasonably safe and convenient”.
    Reasonable?
    So is it reasonable 8 motorcyclist died on our roads?
    Kinda depends on the circumstances, right?

  22. Clancy Anderson
    Oct 25, 2017, 10:32 pm
  23. ACHD has raised the speed limit on the Boise airport frontage road to 40mph.

    So now the departing rental cars with lost unfamiliar out of town drivers will pull out in front of vehicles traveling 40 to 50 instead of 10 less as it used to be. How stupid.

    Did they cause the obscuring bushes at intersections to be removed or pruned? No. There will be a fatality at Luke street, then they’ll trim the shrubs but not before a death.

    They do this all over town using this stupid 85% rule. They don’t improve the road to raise capacity, they just raise the speed limit safety be damned!

  24. Well I am ready to blame the police for lack of law enforcement because it more than likely is in their job description? ACHD does not dictate the speeds set. Cities and the county decide with input from law enforcement, police. Except for state roads, Eagle, Broadway are set by the state.

  25. Clancy Anderson
    Nov 13, 2017, 11:12 am

    Frank, ACHD does set limits based upon driver habits. From the Nov 12
    http://achdidaho.org/Departments/PR/roadWizard/wizard20171112.aspx
    “….Instead of asking police officers to issue tickets, ACHD collected speed data, checked the sight distances on side streets, and reviewed the accident history to see if an increase was appropriate. It was, and law enforcement agreed to the new 40 mph speed limit.”

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