This Motorcycle And Truck Smash Is More Complicated Than It Looks


Warning: Although no one was killed in the following video, it does contain a collision that some viewers might find upsetting.

The video starts the same way as so many do in your feed and mine. A bunch of cool cars are turning out from a smaller road onto a bigger one, looking like they’re leaving a car show. We’ve seen enough of these things that we’re already expecting some Mustang-driving clown to get a little over excited with his right foot application and end up pirouetting into the scenery, or maybe to veer left, then right, trying to catch a slide, before mildly T-boning another innocent car coming the other way.

But this video is different. Yes, several nice 1950s and ’60s cars exit the junction turning left, but then a truck starts to do the same before stopping in the middle of the road. Suddenly a motorcycle appears out of nowhere, its lane blocked by the pickup, its speed too high to stop in time. The bike smashes into the side of the pickup, sending both the rider and pillion passenger somersaulting over the truck’s hood and down hard onto the road surface. The impact is even so severe we see the truck’s passenger being thrown out of the right hand side of the pickup cab.

What was the idiot in the pickup doing stopping like that? Didn’t he see the bike? That’s what I first thought when I saw the clip, and there’s a good chance you thought the same, particularly of you ride motorcycles and know all too well how much danger careless drivers can put you in.

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But reading testimony from people who were there revealed there was more to the story, and it made me think about the judgements we pass every week when we see snapshots of accidents and assign blame without thinking there might be factors we’re not aware of.

In the case of this particular accident, what you couldn’t know merely by watching the few seconds containing the collision is that the cars and trucks were taking part in an organized Function 4 Junction cruise event in Junction City, Oregon. The event is open to vehicles built before 1974 and was established in 2003, according to The Register Guard news website.

Participants were driving on a closed section of road, exiting Third Avenue onto Highway 99, which had been blocked with barriers preventing southbound vehicles entering the route, and allowed the parade cars to move in one direction only. According to people at the scene, the biker had been at a bar down the street, and although he wasn’t intoxicated, he drove around the barriers and up the closed road against the flow of traffic. And by the look and sound of the bike, he was moving pretty rapidly.

A view of the intersection from Highway 99 looking north. Credit: Google

So it seems that, contrary to how the situation might initially appear, it was the motorcycle rider that was at fault. I wonder how many of the other thousands of crash videos I’ve seen over the years have had a similar hidden backstory? And I’ll admit that since I wasn’t there I still can’t claim to know everything about the collision and why it happened. Even knowing the situation and knowing the truck had right of way, you might ask if he had the opportunity to see the bike before pulling out.

We also don’t know the current state of the people unfortunate enough to be at the center of it. News reports suggest that three people involved were taken to hospital, curiously, two of them being the occupants of the truck, who were released later that same night, rather than both bikers. Presumably the third person requiring medical attention was the pillion, who suffered a shocking fall. Fortunately no one died, and for that we can be thankful. Accidents happen and we all make mistakes for all kinds of reasons. Let’s hope these people make a speedy recovery.


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