The problem with this is that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars - even when they are ridden with safety in mind, other cars often have trouble spotting bikes on the road. AAA of the Carolinas has reported that North Carolina ranked eighth worst in the nation for motorcycle fatalities last year, with motorcycle deaths in the state nearly doubling in the last five years. While there were 97 fatalities in the state in 2003, there were 190 last year alone. Although motorcycles make up only 2 percent of the vehicles on the road, they make up 12 percent of the fatalities from vehicle accidents. The Rocky Mount Telegram reported the same news, adding that North Carolina motorcycle laws do not require new riders to take a N.C. Department of Motor Vehicle road test or a state-approved motorcycle training or education courses.
Authorities are wondering how much these numbers will continue to grow with gas prices averaging above $4.00 across the country. Robby Spivey, general manager of Britt Motorsports in New Bern, North Carolina, said that he has seen an increase in customers shopping for bikes specifically because of the gas prices. Timmy Porter, co-owner of Motorcycle Fabricators in Havelock, North Carolina, also said that he as seen more customers coming in looking to refurbish their used bikes.
John Stokes, the state record coordinator for the North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program reported that there were two motorcycle crash fatalities in Craven County last year and three bike crashes that resulted in three debilitating injuries, 14 serious injuries, and 15 minor injuries.
With more motorcycles on the road every day, what can you do to curb the growing number of motorcycle accidents?
- Ride defensively. If you are in a car, realize that motorcycles are hard to see and can hide in your blind spots. Check these spots before changing lanes and look out for bikes at intersections. If you are riding a motorcycle, realize that cars can often miss your presence and ride accordingly.
- Know the basics of riding. Especially with many new motorcycle riders on the streets due to rising gas prices, it is important that you know the basics of operating the bike as well as the bike's limitations. This is especially important when it comes to breaking and cornering skills.
- Wear a helmet. If you are on a bike, wear a helmet. Even if you ride safely, motorcycle accidents do happen and you should be prepared. Also, it's the law.
- Follow the basic rules of the road. It sounds simply, but following the speed limit, obeying traffic signs, and yielding appropriately can stop most auto accidents from happening in the first place - for both cars and bikes.
For many more tips on safe motorcycle riding, visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.