May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in North Carolina
Motorcycle related injuries decreased in North Carolina from 2014 to 2015—with 3,618 reported injuries in 2014 and 3,359 in 2015
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has proclaimed May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month to encourage drivers to share the road with those riding motorcycles and to remind motorcyclists to practice safe riding habits.
The NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the NC Governor's Highway Safety Program (GHSP) will promote motorcycle safety during the month of May to help prevent motorcycle crashes, deaths and injuries on North Carolina roadways.
According to the NCDOT, motorcycle related injuries decreased in North Carolina from 2014 to 2015—with 3,618 reported injuries in 2014 and 3,359 in 2015. Crashes involving motorcyclists in the state also decreased from 3,783 in 2014 to 3,641 in 2015. However, motorcycle fatalities have increased 14.2 percent from 2014 (148) to 2015 (169).
As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, more people are on the roads, including more than 469,000 drivers licensed in North Carolina with a motorcycle endorsement—making motorcycle safety awareness all the more critical heading into the busy summer travel season.
"We want motorists to understand motorcycle safety challenges such as size and visibility, and riding practices like downshifting and weaving to be able to anticipate and respond to motorcyclist behavior," said Don Nail, director of the GHSP. "Our message is for all drivers and riders: Share the responsibility of keeping our roads safe—always share the road."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 1,630 lives were saved in 2014 because of proper helmet usage, but another 715 lives could have been saved if helmets had been worn. A motorcycle rider not wearing a helmet is five times more likely to sustain a critical head injury than a helmeted rider, according to NHTSA. North Carolina's law requires all motorcyclists to wear a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218 helmet.
The GHSP BikeSafe North Carolina program invites motorcyclists to participate in a free "Rider Skills Day" class that offers an assessment of current driving skills and advice to help make their experience as a motorcyclist safer and more enjoyable. For more information, including a full schedule of classes, visit the BikeSafe North Carolina website.
The NCDOT and GHSP offer the following important safety tips to motorcyclists and other drivers.
- Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear;
- Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed;
- Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn;
- Wear brightly colored clothes, gear, and reflective tape to increase visibility;
- Obey the posted speed limit; and
- Never ride distracted or impaired.
- Share the road. Motorcyclists have the right to a full lane;
- Stay alert. Be aware that motorcycles can be easily hidden in a car's blind spot; take an extra moment to thoroughly check traffic when changing lanes, especially at intersections;
- Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic;
- Keep a safe distance. Allow more following distance – three to four seconds – behind motorcycles;
- Be cautious. Be aware that not all turn signals on a motorcycle are self-canceling, thus some riders sometimes forget to turn them off after a turn or lane change;
- Obey the posted speed limit; and
- Never drive distracted or impaired.