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Fatal motorcycle crashes are on the rise in Maine

The scene of a motorcycle crash in Limington.
York County Sheriff
The scene of a motorcycle crash in Limington.

There have been 19 people killed in motorcycle accidents so far this year in Maine, compared to 21 in all of last year. Police say 13 victims were not wearing helmets. John Kohler teaches motorcycle safety for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. He's survived two crashes and says wearing a helmet and leather gear saved his life.

"When you wake up in a helicopter after a motorcycle crash you know you're not going home for awhile," Kohler said. "All the gear, heavy leather jacket, gloves, and a helmet saved my life, for sure."

Maine law doesn't require motorcycle riders to wear a helmet, unless the rider is under 18.

Of the nineteen fatal crashes, police say ten involved another vehicle. Kohler says driver inattention and distraction was a factor in one of his accidents, and it's up to both riders and drivers to be alert and looking for each other.

"I have actually been hit from behind on a motorcycle when someone was on their cellphone. If it wasn't me it could have been a little kid. I was at a yield sign and this big SUV hit me hard," Kohler said.

Police also report that alcohol has been a factor in some fatal motorcycle accidents this year.