A rash of deadly motorcycle crashes has State Patrol troopers cracking down on speeding and reckless bikers.
State troopers have investigated seven motorcycle accidents, including crashes that resulted in five fatalities, in Snohomish and Skagit counties in less than two months.
“We’re seeing motorcyclists speed and drive aggressively. We’re going to crack down,” State Patrol trooper and spokesman Lance Ramsay said.
A Lake Stevens man, 48, and a Bellingham woman, 41, on a motorcycle were killed near Lake Stevens on July 25 after colliding with a pickup on Highway 204. Investigators believe the motorcycle was traveling in a turn lane and collided head-on with the approaching truck.
A week earlier, an Everett man, 19, died after he crashed his motorcycle into a sign on northbound I-5 in Everett. Investigators believe he was speeding and lost control.
Excessive speed has been the cause of the majority of the crashes, Ramsay said.
The number of motorcycle deaths across the country has increased for seven years in a row, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Motorcycle fatalities grew nearly 8 percent last year to 4,008, the first time the number has topped 4,000 since 1987.
Last year, 72 people were killed in motorcycle accidents in Washington, according to the State Patrol. That number represented 14 percent of all fatal accidents investigated by troopers.
From January to June, the State Patrol investigated 28 deadly motorcycle crashes statewide, which makes up about 20 percent of all fatal accidents this year.
Last year, Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives investigated nine serious motorcycle crashes that resulted in seven deaths, sheriff’s deputy Rich Niebusch said.
Police receive numerous complaints about motorcyclists weaving in and out of traffic and even doing stunts on the freeway.
“People are afraid that these guys are going to crash, and they’re going to run them over,” Ramsay said.
The warm summer weather is expected to bring more motorcyclists out on the roads.
Drivers are advised to use extra caution when traveling in traffic with motorcyclists. Bikes are often difficult to see, especially if they are speeding.
The State Patrol uses its airplanes to track down speeding bikers.
It can be too dangerous for police to chase speeding and aggressive motorcyclists on the highway, Ramsay said.
Planes can follow speeders from the air and radio their locations to troopers on the ground.
“We’re actively looking for these motorcyclists. One death, let alone five, is too many,” Ramsay said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.