UNH helps city analyze Motorcycle Week accidents

LACONIA — On the eve of the 90th running of Motorcycle Week, Colonel Robert Quinn of the New Hampshire State Police invited law enforcement officials from the Lakes Region to headquarters in Concord to consider a report on motorcycle accidents occurring during the rally between 2002 and 2011 prepared by the University of New Hampshire Technology Transfer Center.
Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams, who attended the meeting last Friday along with his counterparts from Alton, Belmont, Concord, Gilford and Loudon, said yesterday that the analysis was very valuable. "The report will definitely lead to a change in the philosophy of policing the event." Noting that traditionally police have been deployed to "address disturbances and control rowdy behavior," he said that more resources will be devoted to promoting safety on the roadways.
The study found that from 2002 to 2011 during Bike Week there were 899 motorcycle accidents with 859 injuries and 28 fatalities. Riders without helmets accounted for 71-percent of the fatalities. Almost three-quarters of these accidents involved more than one vehicle, with crashes of single vehicles representing 27-percent of the total.
During the month of June in the three years between 2009 and 2011, there were 216 motorcycle accidents in Laconia, more than any other municipality in the state. Altogether there were 436 accidents in Laconia, Meredith, Gilfoird, Alton, Belmont and Tilton during the same period. The majority of accidents occurred between 11 a.m.and 8 p.m. with hours of 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. accounting for 37-percent, the largest share. During the rally the average number of accidents rises as the week progresses, from 34 on Wednesday, to 26 on Thursday, to 41 on Friday and 54 on Saturday, the last full day of the event.
The report identified Routes 3, 25, 11, 104 and 106, along with Scenic Road, Roller Coaster Road and Winona Road, as those where accidents occurred most frequently.
According to the report, operator error was the cause of slightly more than half the accidents while distraction accounted for 11-percent, speed five-percent and, perhaps surprisingly, impairment for only 2.6-percent.
"People continue to die at this event," said Adams.