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Death of Edwin Ackerman Provides Chilling Reminder of Motorcycle Safety

Police say a motorcyclist died in September 2008 during an accident with a suspected drunken driver in the Muskegon area, igniting concerns over car-motorcycle safety.

According to reports, 47-year-old Fremont resident Edwin J. Ackerman was riding near Fifth Street and Holton Road, when a vehicle pulled out of a nearby parking lot. Investigators say the vehicle, driven by Holton resident Judith Arlene Wilson, 59, struck Mr. Ackerman's bike.

Paramedics responded to the scene and transported him to Grand Rapids' Spectrum Health, but doctors were unable to save him. Meanwhile, officers at the scene observed signs of impairment on the part of Ms. Wilson.

She was taken into custody on suspicion of operating while intoxicated (OWI). In March 2009, Ms. Wilson pleaded no contest to a felony OWI charge; a misdemeanor OWI charge was dropped.

Tragic car and motorcycle crashes provide a reminder to be on the lookout for motorcycles on the road at all time. It's a misconception that fatal motorcycle accidents occur because bikers are aggressive or dangerous drivers. The truth is that many motorcycle accidents occur because people driving cars and trucks don't see them or aren't looking for them.

Here are four steps a car or truck driver can take to make the roads safer for everyone:

  • Check your rear view and side view mirrors often. Be aware of your blind spots, even if it means turning quickly to peek behind you.
  • Don't tailgate or follow too close. While rear-ending a car or truck can be a simple fender-bender, rear-ending a motorcycle can often be fatal.
  • Simply be aware the riders are on the road - consciously look for them when turning onto a highway or merging, and purposely think about the possibility of motorcycles when changing lanes.
  • Don't drive impaired. The motorcyclist killed this week was killed by a drunk driver pulling out of a bar. But drinking isn't the only way to impair your driving - be careful when taking cold medicines, pain killers, and prescription drugs. Also understand that driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.

The responsibility to keep roadways safe falls upon drivers as well as motorcyclists. Be aware of your surroundings at all times while driving and be congnizant of the vehicles in your immediate vicinity.

Unlike those traveling in contained vehicles, motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to ejection. Even low-speed contact can throw and rider from his bike, resulting in major trauma.


If you've been injured in an accident, the experienced Michigan motorcycle injury attorneys at Keller & Keller are available to provide you with a free consultation.

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