Investigators map fatal crash scene - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Investigators map fatal crash scene

July 19, 2007

Lee County -- Georgia State Patrol Crash Investigators returned Thursday to the site of a deadly motorcycle crash in South Lee County.

The fatal crash crashed happened when a van and a car sat face to face in a universal turn lane in a five lane roadway. Then the van turned left into the path of the motorcycle. G-S-P Troopers say those turn lanes can be dangerous and drivers should know how to use them.

Georgia State Patrol Specialized Reconstruction Team Investigators went back to the scene of Wednesday's fatal motorcycle and van collision Thursday morning. The 3 investigators patiently took readings and pictures from all angles around the U.S. 19 and Kinchafoonee Creek Road Intersection, while Troopers, Georgia Department of Transportation, and Lee County Sheriff's Deputies slowed traffic.

43 year old Gregory Cline died from massive head injuries when his motorcycle struck a van that turned in front of him. According to Troopers 43 year old Alejandro Blanco was stopped heading north in the universal turn lane, turning left.  Another car traveling south was stopped just in front of him, trying to merge into heavy traffic about 1:10 PM.

After the car pulled into traffic, Blanco turned left behind him, saying he never saw the motorcycle until it collided with him.

Troopers say universal turn lanes are dangerous, with many drivers traveling great distances in them, even passing in them. But state law says you should travel less than 300 feet in one of the turn lanes. Trooper First Class Andrew McKenzie said "once you enter into that lane, you are not supposed to travel anymore than 300 feet in that lane. So make sure before you enter that lane, you are within 300 feet of where you are supposed to make your left turn at."

 Many drivers use those turn lanes to cross busy roads before merging into oncoming traffic. Troopers say that's OK, as long as you don't ride far. McKenzie said "when they get in that lane, they need to stop, and need to make ure traffic is clear before they travel back onto the roadway."

Troopers say no charges have been filed against Blanco,  pending the conclusion of the investigation into the fatal crash.

South Georgia motorcycle safety instructors say more people are riding motorcycles,  and riders and drivers have to both work to prevent more fatal crashes like yesterdays. Riders should always be aware of dangers, especially watching cars that could turn in their path. Vehicles turning left into the path of a motorcycle is the number one cause of crashes in Georgia.

Rider's Edge Program Manager Alan Kidd said " the motorcycle rider needs to be aware of these type hazards, especially at intersections. Those who drive the cars and trucks, it's an awareness thing. You need to be more cognizant of what's going on around you as a vehicle driver."

 Kidd says car drivers often are talking on cell phones, and not concentrating on the road, which can be deadly for motorcyclists.

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