KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee has seen a rise in fatal motorcycle crashes in 2023. So far there have been 64 total fatal motorcycle crashes, this is up from 50 for the same time period in 2022 according to the TN Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOS).
21 people have died in motorcycle crashes in East Tennessee so far in 2023, according to data from TDOS. Each year motorcycle crashes are seen as the weather begins to warm and more motorcycles are on the road.
In Knox County, seven people have been killed in motorcycle crashes in 2023. This is double the number killed in 2022 during the same time period.
On February 18, Ron Everett, 29, was hit and killed while riding a motorcycle at the intersection of N. Cherry Street and Magnolia Avenue according to Knoxville Police.
On March 23, Travis Wilkerson, 32, of Knoxville was killed when a Honda SUV attempted to turn left from Ashville Highway onto Ruggles Ferry Pike. His death caused a Knoxville motorcycle group made up of current and former police officers to speak out and remind people to be aware on the roads.
Nearly a week later on March 29, Donald Massengill was riding his motorcycle on Western Avenue when another vehicle hit and killed him. Massengill was a KAT bus driver and he is remembered as a calm presence and natural mentor.
On April 5, 18-year-old Randall L. Brewer Jr. died at the scene of the crash in East Knox County. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol preliminary report, he was riding a motorcycle south on U.S. Route 11 West and Rutledge Pike when he hit the back of a 2006 KIA Sportage.
On April 7, Gordon Edward “Eddie”, 25, died when his motorcycle collided with a pickup on Wood Road, in the Corryton community in northern Knox County.
On May 10, Tamara Hensley, 36, died in a motorcycle crash at Norris Freeway and Sam Walton Way intersection. Hensley’s loved ones remember her as a passionate member of the Knoxville motorcycle community who encouraged others to ride. A memorial ride was held for her on May 20.
There has two fatal motorcycle crashes in Sevier County and one in Loudon County as of June 1, 2023, according to TDOS. Larry Hurst, 40, died in a motorcycle crash on Chapman Highway in Sevier County around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 24. 45-year-old Adam Jenkins died after crashing into a guardrail on I-75 in Loudon County on Tuesday, April 4.
In Blount County, TDOS said that two people have died in fatal motorcycle crashes as of May 24, 2023. On April 21, Robert Anderson, 30, died when his 2010 Kawasaki motorcycle collided with a 2006 Nissan Titan on Sevierville Road/Hwy 411 at Hinkle Road. Another person was killed in a crash in Maryville in May according to TDOS.
According to Blue Nights, a Knoxville motorcycle group made up of current and former police officers, two-thirds of accidents with motorcycles happen when people pull right in front of them while the other third get hit from behind.
The Crossville Police Department shared several safety tips for drivers on how to prevent crashing with a motorcycle:
- While a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has all the same rights on the road as any other motorist.
- Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.
- Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful, as motorcycle signals are often non-canceling.
- Ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
- Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
- Always allow ample follow distance – three to four seconds – when driving behind a motorcycle. This gives riders more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
There were 154 fatal motorcycle crashes across Tennessee in 2022, according to TDOS. Motorcycle crashes made up 11.7% of the total fatal crashes (1,315) in 2022.