'We're extremely alarmed': Officials say motorcycle fatalities spike during quarantine

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Traffic safety officials say one good thing to come from the stay at home order is a decrease in deadly car crashes. But it's not all positive. While car wrecks are down, fatal motorcycle crashes are up.

Officials say the numbers are troubling, with the latest fatality happening Thursday morning out of Shoreline. With even nicer weather just on the horizon and the stay home order extended through May, some worry the spike in deaths will just continue.

"Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday this week we have had fatal crashes with motorcycles. It's really scary," says Mark Medalen of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

2019 held the most biker fatalities in Washington since 1982 with 92 deaths, but officials worry 2020 is on track to be far worse, as this time last year there'd been 13 fatalities, now we have 20. Officials say quarantine has produced far more riders on the road and increased speeding in both drivers and riders.

"We've heard reports and seen reports of motorcycles doing an excess of 120 to 150 mph," says Medalen.

He says speed has been the main factor in most of the recent fatalities. Impairment accounted for just one.

"You get on a motorcycle and you get going fast, that becomes addictive," says lifelong rider Shayne Curry. "My first ride, I was four years old on the back of my dad's Harley."

It's a passion he's passed down to his children, but it's also a passion he recognizes comes at a high risk.

"It's a thrill, it's a rush, people get addicted to that thrill and sometimes they pay dearly for it."

One of the the people who paid early for it is Shayne's own father.

"He rode fast and hard at times and that very well could've been what cost him his life, and he'd been riding for 50 plus years. It can happen to anybody."

So how can you stay safe? For drivers it's crucial to pay attention to motorcyclists, be aware and stay off your phone. But data shows a majority of crashes are caused by the riders, so training is key.

However, safety training through a motorcycle school isn't mandatory in Washington. And if a rider wanted to the right thing and attend a safety school, right now they can't, as they're closed due to the virus.

The traffic safety commission says they are seeing an increase in riders not only not having training, but not even taking the test required to legally ride. They say some of the recent fatalities involved riders on motorcycles that weren't even registered to them.

"We're extremely alarmed, this is really serious to us. A lot of us ride, so when we see a motorcycle go down and then another motorcycle go down...I don't remember a time in my career where we have seen this many motorcycles in this short of a time where people are crashing and dying," says Medalen.