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Numbers of motorcycle deaths increasing

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 30 2014 09:09:30 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 31 2014 07:46:52 AM CDT

Motorcycle deaths increasing

It's a tragic trend. Since 2009, motorcycle deaths have been on the rise.

Experts say spring can bring deadly hazards to bikers.

"I think I would have had a broken neck or worse if I hadn't been wearing my helmet," explained Mark Stitzer.

The Wernersville, Berks County man will spend the next few months wearing a back brace. He has nine bulging disks and four compression fractures in his spine after crashing his motorcycle in Reading last Saturday around 9 p.m.

"Hit right about my right temple area against the tire of the parked car," he said.

The 21-year-old wiped out on 9th Street near the intersection with Franklin Street when he says a car pulled in-front of him.

"He cut me off," said Stitzer. "No turn signals, he passed on the right and caused a pretty severe accident."

According to PennDOT, from 2011 to 2012 motorcycle crashes have increased 8.6%, with about 200 deaths annually statewide over the past five years.

With springtime on the horizon, bikers are now being lured out of winter hibernation and onto the streets.

Stitzer hopes everyone on the roads does their part to keep the rubber side down.

"I think that both motorcycle riders and vehicle drivers just need to be aware of each other."

Experts say cooperation on the roads and safe riding practices are key to keeping injuries and deaths down.

Motorcycle rider training is a smart option that teaches crash-avoidance techniques and hones critical riding skills.

Bikers should also wear a helmet and make sure it's DOT approved.

"Wear a helmet," Stitzer echoed. "I think that it saved my life, at least my way of life."

Stitzer may need back surgery, and he has a long recovery ahead of him. But he has a positive attitude.

"I won't stand quite as tall from now on, but hopefully they heal," he smiled.

Stitzer's family is offering a reward for information that tracks down the driver who cut him off. If you know anything please call Reading Police.