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Motorcycle deaths point to low training standards, driver says

In northeastern Ontario, four motorcyclists have died so far this year. The fatalities are part of an alarming trend on Ontario highways that shows fatal motorcycle crashes are headed for a seven-year high, according to provincial police.
North Bay's Max Burns and his wife Jackie Quinton (left) take a break from riding while island hopping in southwestern New Brunswick. Burns, who has been riding since he was 14, contends it's too easy for people to get a motorcycle licence. (Supplied)

In northeastern Ontario, four motorcyclists have died so far this year. The fatalities are part of an alarming trend on Ontario highways that shows fatal motorcycle crashes are headed for a seven-year high, according to provincial police.

In 2014, a total of 25 motorcycle drivers and one passenger have died in accidents on Ontario's highways.

Motorcycle fatalities are expected to reach a seven-year high. And police say it's not young, inexperienced drivers who make up the bulk of the fatalities. 6:51

Kerry Schmidt of the OPP's Highway Safety Division said that in 50 of the last 175 collisions, the motorcyclist did nothing wrong.

“And that's when the responsibility of the collision shifted to another motorist,” Schmidt said.

“And that's why we need to have this communication to both motorcyclists and motorists that this is a shared responsibility for road safety.”

Schmidt says car drivers should be particularly careful when turning or changing lanes to make sure that a motorcycle isn't close by.

Older people being killed

The victims in these collisions are increasingly middle-aged men — many of whom are driving in ideal conditions, during daylight hours.

“There is a perception out there that most of these collisions are being caused by young drivers, inexperienced, driving sports style motorcycles, at night, travelling at high rates of speed, doing wheelies, and so on. But that's really not the case,” Schmidt continued.

A 50-year veteran of riding, North Bay’s Max Burns, said he isn't surprised people his age think they can drive a motorcycle, because they've been driving a car their whole lives.

Burns has written several books about his journeys across Ontario's highways.

"People see it and they think that's a neat idea,” he said.

“Their debts are paid off, their kids are through school … And then they get a motorcycle and they get their licence and they think they know how to ride."

Burns said it’s too easy to get a motorcycle licence and believes the Ontario government should require people to have more training before they become licensed drivers.

Ontario Provincial Police say the number of people killed in motorcycle accidents could hit a seven-year high 2:02

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