A beautiful autumn ride turned horrific after five individuals lost their lives on a country road at a beautiful location on the Pennsylvania – Maryland border. The countryside in this area is similar to that found around the hills and mountains in Georgia and the story of what happened is still being uncovered. One thing is for sure, four bikers and an SUV passenger have lost their lives and the grief for the families and the community is overwhelming. Over many years as an Atlanta motorcycle injury lawyer, I have represented motorcyclists and their families deal with the legal and medical issues involved in motorcycle accidents. This recent crash is very tragic.
In addition to the fact that this accident is reported to be the most severe that has ever occurred in the small border township in which it occurred in the loss of life and injury, the cause really remains a mystery. On a perfect fall afternoon at around 2 in the afternoon, two bikes, each carrying a passenger were riding at the area of the Blue Ridge Summit. The bikes somehow ended up in a deadly collision with an SUV.
Updated reports are now indicating that for the SUV apparently traveled into the opposite lane of traffic and hit one of the motorcycles. Subsequently, the second bike hit the vehicle. The cause of the drifting of the SUV is not currently known. The crash was so horrific, that all four on the bikes were killed along with an SUV passenger.
Due to the severity of this crash, the emergency responders received extra support because according to reports the accident scene was worse than most had ever seen. At least one person survived and has been taken to the hospital in Maryland. Perhaps the survivor will be able to help authorities piece together what happened.
Bikers know that the beautiful rides of fall can be among the most peaceful and wonderful there are. The cool air, drifting leaves and open road are so inviting. The unexpected collision, particularly one in which bikes and other motor vehicles collide head-on is not what we think about as we get on the open road.
But when we are driving or riding at even normal rates of speed and we end up facing another vehicle coming towards us in our lane … what can we do to try to avoid tragedy? Are there any technological advances that might avoid such a collision? Researchers have already established that the use of helmets in general can save a biker’s life. The famous and renown study done in the early 1980’s for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (The Hurt Report) established key factors in motorcycle safety. The NHTSA continues to work on identifying risk exposure to riders and how to best communicate to the biking community about crash avoidance. But some situations on the road present challenges that even the most experienced and cautious riders might not be able to manage safely.
One of those is a situation in which vehicles (bikes and cars, or bikes and trucks for example) traveling in the opposite direction from one another end up in the same lane. Perhaps in the future there could be some sort of warning system using a GPS-like system to detect the other vehicle. But even this will not assist if there is no where to safely pull over to avoid collision.