By Kate Froehlich
Special to The Dagger
Just after 2:30 p.m. on July 11, Rudolph Glanville slowed his Chevrolet truck on Route 165 to make a turn onto Nelson Mill Road. Without warning, he felt a hit from behind that jolted the truck.
Pulling over, he saw that a man had been ejected from his Harley-Davidson, having failed to stop in time to prevent contact with Glanville’s truck.
The motorcyclist, 37-year-old William Anderson III, was airlifted to University of Maryland Shock Trauma, but succumbed to his injuries, becoming the 10th Harford resident killed while riding a motorcycle on or near county roads this year. Anderson was a 15-year veteran of the Baltimore County Police Department and a member of the Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company.
The number of motorcycle fatalities, including a two-fatality crash on Route 40 just outside the county line this month, is up from seven at this time last year, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland State Police.
“The number of motorcycle fatalities is high,” said Chuck Moore, commander of the Maryland State Police’s Barrack D in Bel Air. Moore blamed the increase on “inattention and driver experience.”
“It’s not alcohol. The drivers that are experienced aren’t paying attention. Because we do have a lot of traffic around here, you need to pay attention all the time,” Moore said. “You can’t daydream and you can’t take your eyes off the front of you. When there is that moment and you make the smallest little mistake, because you don’t have that metal body around you everything is magnified.”
Added Sheriff Jesse Bane, “It’s a combination of factors [including] driver error, people taking risks, people that aren’t looking for motorcycles and then don’t see them, [and] the volume of traffic.”
The problem lies “in part with the motoring public and [also with] the failure to make new roads,” Bane said.
Prior to the most recent road construction, few major changes have been made to county roads since the 1980s despite an increase in the number of motorists countywide. Bane said, “We can’t keep bringing more vehicles designed to handle ‘60’s, ‘70’s, ‘80’s traffic and think there won’t be any problems.”
However, local body shops haven’t seen an increase in motorcycles coming in for repair said Bel Air Motorcycle owner Don Long, one indication that non-fatal accidents may not be on the rise.
Long said drivers of cars remain a bigger threat to motorcyclists than bikers themselves.
“I think the biggest problem around this area is drivers paying attention.” Long said. “I’ve witnessed two bikes get rear ended. The biggest problem with riding through Bel Air is other drivers watching for us.”
The Maryland State Police have not seen a pattern behind the cause of the incidents, Moore said.
“Believe me if there was, we would step up enforcement in those areas,” Moore said. “We will target certain roadways if we see a pattern of accidents, not just for motorcycles.”
As a result of automobile accidents in general, enforcement has been increased on Route 543, Route 40, Route 1, and Route 152 this year, according to Moore.
“Law enforcement is doing what they can,” Bane said. “We’re working as hard as we can with the limited resources that we have.”
Although he “takes exception with anyone” that says the problem is solely a law enforcement issue, “that’s not to say that law enforcement won’t come up with initiatives” to help the issue. For example, law enforcement officers “provide input when road improvements are being done as to what is gone for the flow of traffic,” Bane said.
“People are shocked. This is something fairly recent to Harford County and not something with county is accustomed to,” Bane said. “I hope this is not a forecaster for the future.”
“We just wish that they [motorcycle accidents] wouldn’t happen of course. We try to prevent people from getting hurt,” Moore said.
Bane added, “My greatest fear is that we become insensitive. This is a very serious issue.”
Sergeant Donald Gividen, head of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Safety Unit, urged specific precautions: “Always wear a Department of Transportation approved safety helmet, be properly charged on how to handle and ride a motorcycle, be certain to have a class M license, obey all traffic laws, especially those related to posted speeds, and don’t drink and drive.”
“One of the things we promote in the motorcycle safety program is a share the road awareness campaign,” said Philip Sause, Motor Vehicle Administration Motorcycle Safety Program Coordinator. Operators of cars and motorcycles have “a joint responsibility” to ensure safe driving.
He adds that motorcyclists must “understand how to stop their vehicle and how to swerve their vehicle.”
“For motorcyclists, ride to be seen, ride to be visible,” Sause said. “You can disappear from a driver’s rear view mirror. They should also have reflective gear, especially when riding at night. Think about what could possibly happen. What is the worst thing that can happen in this situation?”
(Note: The following list was assembled from several sources. If any of the names or other info is incorrect, let us know and we’ll update it.)
1. Richard V. Genna Jr., 22, Abingdon
Harford County Sheriff’s Office investigated
Singer Road near Atkinson Road, Joppa
2007 Honda CBR 600
2. Karl M. Kunz, 20, Edgewood
Joppa Farm Road at Foster Knoll Dr.
3. Michael S. Laubach, 26, addresses in both Street and Abingdon
Maryland State Police investigated
Westbound Route 40 in Abingdon
4. Joseph J. Morlock (or Morlok), 39, residency not reported??
Southbound Route 1 at Route 136 in Dublin
2001 Harley-Davidson Softtail (sp?)
*5. George Laubach, 21, Aberdeen
Aldino Road east of Route 22
6. Daniel M. DeVries, 21, Fallston
Reckord Road north of Beechwood Road, Fallston
7. Henry J. Hagey Jr., 66, Baldwin
Harford Road south of Connolly Road, Baldwin
2004 Harley-Davidson Sportster
8 and 9. Michael C. Deinlein, 26, Edgewood
Melissa Sobczynski, 29, Edgewood
Baltimore County Police investigated
Route 40 west of Jones Road, approx. 1 mile into Baltimore County
2004 Kawasaki Ninja
10. William E. Anderson III, 37, Jarrettsville
Route 165 at Nelson Mill road in Jarrettsville