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April 5, 2013

N.H. has more motorcycles, more fatal crashes

More motorcycles than ever on state roads

(Continued)

“There’s just too many fatalities,” Thomson said. “We are pushing up to 30 percent of the fatalities in the state being on motorcycles.”

Even if the state does raise the speed limit, former state Sen. Robert Letourneau, who runs a training course for new motorcycle riders in Londonderry, doesn’t think it would have much impact on motorcycle fatalities.

“The majority of crashes occur on roads where traffic is going in both directions,” he said. “Often times, it’s people crossing the center line either on a motorcycle or on a vehicle.”

Some motorcyclists cited factors other than speed.

“People don’t see us because people are texting,” said Tony Nappo, 52, of Derry, who was shopping at Derry Cycle yesterday. “We have to be more aware than ever.”

Letourneau said he believes many crashes are due to riders being ill equipped to properly handle their bikes.

“A lot of longtime motorcycle riders are older now,” he said. “They’ve lost some of their hearing and vision, and their range of motion is not as good as it was when they are in their 20s and 30s. It makes their reaction time slower.”

Sometimes, drivers just don’t see the motorcycles.

“The biggest issue is that motorcycles have such a low visibility,” Shapiro said.

Some riders try to counteract that by wearing higher visibility clothing.

“We sell a lot of the neon yellow clothing,” Jones said. “It’s become a bit of a trend.”

Then there’s the state’s lack of a helmet law.

Thomson said the number is about evenly split between riders who do and don’t wear helmets.

“I wish they did wear helmets,” he said. “Although sometimes, helmets wouldn’t prevent some of the deaths we’re seeing.”

Jones said he isn’t seeing a big rush in helmet sales.

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