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NC Military Service Members At Higher Risk For Motorcycle Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2009 had the lowest rates of traffic accident fatalities of any other year in the past six decades. However, although our roads seem to be getting safer, the rate of fatal motorcycle accidents in North Carolina has risen by 20 percent in the last year alone. Some believe that the higher numbers are in part caused by the large number of returning soldiers buying and riding motorcycles after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Just this month, two service men were killed while riding motorcycles near their bases in North Carolina. In one case, 25-year-old Staff Sgt. Edwin Ramos was killed when he lost control of his bike on an I-40 exit ramp and struck a guardrail. In the other case, 30-year-old 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper Staff Sgt. Antonio Almendarez was riding his bike in Vass in Moore County when he crashed and lost his life.

Some traffic experts and military officials say that soldiers on active duty are often attracted to adrenaline, speed, and excitement, especially after returning from long stretches overseas in high stress situations. In some cases, these soldiers return to the United States and purchase motorcycles. In Fort Bragg alone, there are 4,000 registered motorcycles.

While the vast majority of riders use their bikes safely, accidents do happen – and on motorcycles, these accidents are often fatal. In 2008, the military had 474 service members involved in motorcycle accidents and 105 motorcycle deaths. While motorcycle safety courses are mandatory for servicemen who want to ride, the military is now considering other ideas to help keep the men and women who serve our country safe.