Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers are continuing the investigation into Friday afternoon's multi-vehicle traffic crash south of Wilsonville on Interstate 5. Ten motorcyclists traveling together as part of the Brothers Speed Motorcycle Club were injured, two critically. Names of three other injured motorcycle operators are available with this release.
On September 18, 2009 at approximately 2:45 p.m. approximately 26 motorcycles were traveling northbound in the left inside lane near milepost 282 in a formation of two columns when traffic ahead began to come to a stop. The first two motorcycles maneuvered to avoid a collision with a 2005 Toyota 4Runner but the rest of the motorcycles could not react in time and crashed into the sport utility vehicle and into each other. A second vehicle, a 2004 Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle in the center lane was also struck by one of the motorcycles attempting to avoid the collisions.
Medical responders arrived and subsequently transported eight motorcyclists by ground ambulance. Two others identified as HERBERT SINCLAIR, age 48, from Heyburn, Idaho and DAVID BOWYER, age 44, from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho were transported by LifeFlight to Oregon Health Sciences University and Legacy Emanuel Hospital, respectively.
Both men are reported in critical condition.
Photograph Source: Oregon State Police
Group Riding: Allow at least two seconds of distance between you and the rider directly in front of you.
A common group riding formation is in a staggered two-column.
One problem with riding in a group is a tendency to relax your guard, paying close attention only to the rider directly in front of you. Being in a group can give you a false sense of security, taking away much of the stress of staying alert and reading traffic for potential hazards.
It's possible that the riders in this large group were relying upon the two lead riders to watch for traffic. The article doesn't cite any speeds---I-5 is a very busy freeway, so perhaps 40 miles per hour would be a good guess---2:45 PM is not rush hour---at 40 miles per hour, reaction time plus braking time is about 4.4 seconds, taking about 216 feet. (Motorcycle RiderCourse, Riding and Street Skills, Student Workbook)
The lead riders successfully braked or swerved to avoid a collision with the sudden traffic stop, but the following riders would have had even less time to recognize the hazard.
What to do? One vague, general rule of group riding is "Ride your own ride." To me, it means to stay alert, scan for hazards, even while riding in a group. The lead rider is usually an experienced motorcyclist, responsible for looking out for the entire group, but each individual rider must remain alert and defensive.