WASHINGTON (May 17, 2017) — A pickup truck driver’s impairment from the use of several drugs caused the June 7, 2016, collision with multiple bicycle riders in Cooper Township, Michigan, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Five bicyclists died and four sustained serious injuries when a pickup truck operated by a 50-year-old man, traveling on a two-lane roadway, departed the travel lane to the right and struck nine bicyclists who were riding single file along the paved road shoulder.
Law enforcement officers observed after the collision that the pickup truck driver was having trouble speaking and keeping his balance. Additionally, two bottles containing tablets and capsules were found in the truck cab. A blood sample taken from the driver was positive for several drugs including THC-COOH (a marijuana metabolite), methamphetamine, amphetamine, hydrocodone, and tramadol.
The bicyclists were part of a private bicycle club on a planned ride and were complying with applicable Michigan state laws for bicycle traffic. All riders were wearing helmets and high-visibility clothing.
“We have witnessed a 20 percent increase in cyclist fatalities since 2011,” said NTSB Acting Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “Vulnerable road users such as bicyclists and pedestrians are particularly at risk from drivers who are distracted, drowsy, or substance impaired.”
Ending alcohol and other drug impairment in transportation is on the NTSB Most Wanted List.
The full report for the Cooper Township, Michigan, crash is available online at: https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/HAB1701.pdf