SALT LAKE CITY — Both Utah Department of Transportation and motorcyclists want to remind drivers to be extra cautious with more activity back on the road this time of year.
UDOT’s Zero Fatalities campaign tracks serious injuries and fatalities involving motorcycles. In 2020, there were 44 motorcycle fatalities in Utah while so far this year, there have been seven motorcycle fatalities before entering the month of May.
“As drivers we have to watch out for them, and as motorcycle riders we have to make sure we’re properly trained and we’re doing everything by wearing the proper equipment, helmets to protect ourselves in case there is a terrible crash,” said UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason. “Motorcycles are the most vulnerable vehicles out there because they’re smaller than other vehicles and they just don’t have the same protections as trucks and cars.”
FOX 13 spoke with several motorcyclists who say that drivers need to pay better attention to their surroundings and to simply not drive distracted.
Michael Gallegos has been riding a motorcycle for 51 years and spends a lot of his time riding with the Patriot Guard Riders of Utah, who honors fallen soldiers.
“People do not pay attention to a motorcycle, period that’s the bottom line,” said Gallegos, who wants drivers to put down their phone, allow proper following distance and to better check their surroundings. “You read it and you hear it in the news every day someone goes down on a motorcycle and it’s unfortunate you know.”
A few weeks ago, Gallegos was riding back from Price with fellow members of the Patriot Guard Riders. The group had been attending a funeral for a fallen soldier and were on their way back.
“All the sudden I hear this big bang behind me and I look in my rear view mirror and Jeff was on the floor and the bike was just tumbling you know,” Gallegos described as one of his fellow riders was clipped by a truck that took off from the scene. “If he had not worn his helmet, I don’t think he would still be here.”
“His (Childs’) first words were after he came back, that’s it I’m not going to ride anymore,” said Gallegos.
Numerous motorcycle-related accidents have taken place in the past few weeks, including a fatal accident in Clearfield that took the life of Army SPC Steven Briggs.
Police say Briggs swerved to avoid a vehicle that turned left in front of his motorcycle when he struck another vehicle head-on, was thrown into the street and then hit by another vehicle who left the scene.
There will be a procession for Briggs on Saturday morning involving a funeral escort from Ogden to Pocatello, Idaho.