The first assumption many people make when they hear teenagers died in a motorcycle accident is that the young riders made a mistake. While it’s true that many Wisconsin teens are unprepared to deal with everyday traffic situations, largely because they lack enough road experience, many fatal motorcycle crashes are caused by older drivers in much formidable vehicles.

A tractor-trailer struck a motorcycle carrying two teens on U.S. Highway 51 near Highway 22 in Leeds, Columbia County. Police stated a Portage truck driver crossed from the southbound roadway into oncoming traffic lanes around 5 p.m. on a weekday afternoon.

Earlier in the year, county highway safety officials ordered a study of the intersection where the accident took place. A chief deputy of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department felt the fatality had nothing to do with whether the intersection was safe, indicating human negligence rather than a road-planning error played a greater part in the crash.

A 17-year-old motorcycle operator and his 18-year-old male passenger died at the scene of the semi-trailer accident. Medical rescue workers apparently attempted to perform CPR on one of the boys before abandoning the lifesaving effort. A Med Flight helicopter was empty as it left the scene.

The truck driver had been wearing a seat belt and was not hurt. No citations or charges were reported.

Columbia County deputies, state police and the medical examiner’s office are continuing the crash investigation. Wisconsin State Patrol has put evidence collection in the hands of an accident reconstruction team.

Motorcycles are comparably small vehicles than cars and tractor-trailers. Sometimes drivers of larger vehicles forget that two-wheeled vehicles are present in traffic. Because of their size and some drivers’ ignorance of traffic laws, motorcycles are frequently dismissed as unworthy road vehicles.

Investigators will probe why the trucker crossed the centerline. Mechanical difficulties, alcohol or drug influence, traffic and weather conditions, line-of-sight difficulties and distraction are accident causes that police must rule out or use to prosecute a negligent driver.

Source:, “Teens killed in motorcycle accident identified,” July 12, 2012