Helmets and high visibility clothing were no help to a group of bicyclists when a Michigan man who was under the influence of several drugs got behind the wheel of his pickup truck on June 7, 2016.

Nine bicyclists struck

The devastating accident in Cooper Township killed five bicyclists and seriously injured four others. It occurred when the pickup truck, 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.

A report released today by the National Transportation Safety Board said two bottles containing tablets and capsules were found in the truck cab. A blood sample taken from the driver was positive for THC-COOH (a marijuana metabolite), methamphetamine, amphetamine, hydrocodone, and tramadol.

Law enforcement officers observed after the collision that the pickup truck driver was having trouble speaking and keeping his balance.

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.

A jump in bicyclist deaths

“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