Our deputies patrol over 2,000 square miles every day, and as you can imagine, that means we work a lot of traffic crashes.

Tragically, we see people killed in crashes on a weekly basis. Recently we’ve seen an uptick in motorcycle-related crashes, so we wanted to take this opportunity to talk about those.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida continually ranks among the top three states in the nation for motorcycle-related fatalities.

In 2018, the Polk County Sheriff ’s Office Traffic Unit handled 189 motorcycle crashes, and seven of those crashes involved motorcyclists who were killed. We are just three months into 2019 and the PCSO traffic unit has already handled 38 motorcycle crashes and six motorcyclists have died on Polk County roadways.

Other law enforcement agencies, as well as Florida Highway Patrol, also work traffic crashes in our county, so it’s possible that number is even higher.

The two main causes of these recent fatalities: speed and impairment. Several of those motorcyclists died as a result of weaving in and out of traffic before slamming into other vehicles.

Motorcyclists are also killed because of careless driving by others, also. According to the National

Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 40 percent of two-vehicle crashes involving motorcycles occur when a vehicle turns left while the motorcycle is going straight, passing, or overtaking the vehicle.

There are key things to remember while on the road. It’s very important for motorists to “share the roadway” — when vehicles are at-fault in motorcycle crashes, it’s typically because drivers don’t see the motorcyclist. All drivers need to be careful when changing lanes and don’t follow too closely.

Motorcyclists should make sure they can be seen in a crowd, because riders who are visible are less likely to have their right-of-way violated.

Most importantly, reduce speed, don’t drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs and don’t text behind the wheel.

We all need to work together to keep the roadways safer.

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