FLINT, MI — As spring weather settles in, the time for motorcyclists to hit the road across Mid-Michigan seems to have arrived.
The Michigan Senate has designated May as motorcycle safety awareness month.
There are more than 85,000 people in an 18-counties across Mid-Michigan who have motorcycle endorsements.
MLive.com used Michigan Office of Highway and Safety Planning’s traffic crash facts data tool to analyze crashes involving motorcycles from 2012-2016.
The data revealed:
There have been 2,464 motorcycle crashes in mid-Michigan during the five-year timespan. Nearly 74 percent of those crashes resulted in injuries and 103 of them resulted in death.
Genesee and St. Clair counties reported the most deadly motorcycle crashes during that timeframe with 19 each.
The counties with the two next largest totals were Saginaw County with 14 fatal crashes and Bay County with 10.
Arenac County, which only recorded three fatal crashes, actually had the most fatal motorcycle crashes per capita due to its 15,045 population. Clare, five fatal crashes, and Ogemaw, three fatal crashes, had the next highest per capita rate of fatal crashes.
Despite reporting the most fatal crashes, Genesee and St. Clair counties actually were in the lowest third in terms of the per capita rate of fatal crashes due to their larger populations.
There were 940 crashes that involved motorcyclists who didn’t have their endorsement, according to the data.
Michigan law requires motorcyclists to be properly endorsed to operate a motorcycle on a roadway. Motorcyclists who fail to get endorsed can be found guilty of a misdemeanor.
One such incident took place in West Branch on July 29, 2012.
A 19-year-old West Branch man was driving a too fast and wiped out as he took a sharp curve, police said.
The man had severe road rash and was treated and released by emergency responders.
The data shows there were 29 fatal crashes involving unendorsed motorcyclists.
On their own:
More than half of the crashes involving motorcycles didn’t involve another vehicle.
There were 1,391 crashes that occurred that didn’t include the bike colliding with another vehicle, the data revealed. However, crash reports showed some of those crashes included motorcyclists who would swerve to avoid collision with another vehicle or reacted to other traffic.
But some of the crashes followed missteps by the motorcyclist or passenger.
One such crash took place in Frankenmuth in May 2012.
A 22-year-old Saginaw man was driving his 2004 Yamaha along Cherry Street and needed to turn around, according to the crash report.
The man pulled into a private drive to make a U-turn when the weight of the bike shifted and the bike fell over.
The bike’s passenger was taken to the hospital for burns from the muffler to her right leg, according to the report. The man drove himself to hospital because he had burns and scrapes on his leg.
Oftentimes, animals led to motorcycle crashes.
Deer were the most dangerous culprit as the data showed they were involved in 329 crashes in the area.
Eight of those crashes led to fatalities, the data showed.
However, bikers had more than just deer to watch out for.
One particular crash in August 2016 in Huron County’s Verona Township involved a pheasant, according to the crash report.
A 19-year-old man was driving straight on Sand Beach Road when he hit the bird and caused minor damage to his 2000 Harley-Davidson. The victim was not injured, according to the crash report.
But another man riding through Gratiot County wasn’t as lucky when he was injured and his 1998 Harley-Davidson was heavily damaged due to a gaggle of geese.
A 61-year-old Carson City man was riding his Dyna Low Rider east on Washington Road in New Haven Township in July 2016 when a person driving a Mazda Miata in front of him hit the brakes to avoid hitting geese on the road, according to the crash report.
The car swerved and ended up sideways in the eastbound lane. The motorcyclist slammed into the side of the vehicle.
Police said the man was ejected from the motorcycle and landed on the road. He was not wearing a helmet.
The report shows the man sustained injuries, but an ambulance was not reported at the scene.
Animals weren’t the only thing posing a risk to motorcyclists.
Distracted drivers — both on the motorcycles and in other vehicles — also resulted in injuries.
Crash statistics started tracking distracted driving in 2016, and there were 15 resulting injury crashes reported that year.
In one crash, a motorcyclist was driving his Harley-Davidson Road King on Standish Road in Gibson Township on July 2, 2016, and was looking at police vehicles in a nearby driveway, according to a report.
The 51-year-old Bay City resident did not see another motorcyclist in front of him turning and crashed into him, police said.
Both cyclist received minor road rash and refused medical treatment.
In another distracted driving incident, a motorcyclist was injured in Iosco County when a woman pulled out from a parking lot. The 27-year-old Oscoda man was seriously injured when his 2003 Kawasaki ZXR was hit by a Dodge Durango driven by the woman.
Witnesses said they saw the woman talking on the phone and eating food while she was pulling out of the parking lot, according to the report.
The data did not show any fatal motorcycle crashes in 2016 that involved the driver being distracted.
Drug and alcohol use:
Drugs and alcohol played a role in more than 200 of the crashes, including many of the fatal crashes, according to the data.
The data shows 26 fatal crashes involved alcohol, 12 involved drugs and another dozen involved both drugs and alcohol.
Injuries were reported in another 170 crashes that involved drugs, alcohol or a combination of the two.
One such crash injured two people near Flint during the early morning hours of Aug. 2, 2012.
At 1:35 a.m., a 57-year-old Flint man was riding east on Bristol Road in Flint Township when he allowed a 36-year-old woman riding with him on a Harley-Davidson to take control of the bike from behind, according to the police report.
The woman’s operation of the motorcycle caused a crash near Moulton Drive, police said. The pair got back on the bike and fled to the man’s residence, according to the report.
The woman, who suffered a non-serious injury, was cited for driving with a suspended license and drunken driving. Her blood alcohol content was 0.14, nearly double the legal limit, according to the report.
Police gave the man a ticket for failing to stop at a personal injury crash and allowing a drunken driver to operate his vehicle.