Authorities are urging motorists to remain alert for motorcycles and help reduce the number of serious and fatal Carolina motorcycle accidents as the long summer riding season begins.
“Educating both bikers and other drivers about the importance of motorcycle safety and being aware of their surroundings is key to making our state a safer place to travel,” said North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Gene Conti.
North Carolina motorcycle accidents claimed 151 lives last year, down slightly from the 159 riders killed in 2008. And, while motorcycles account for just 2 percent of registered vehicles, riders are involved in 12 percent of fatal accidents.
South Carolina motorcycle accidents claimed 115 lives in 2008. Nationwide, a total of 5,290 riders were killed and more than 96,000 injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Half of all motorcycle accidents involved a collision with another vehicle. In three-quarters of those cases, the motorcycle was struck in the front, frequently when a vehicle failed to yield while making a turn or pulling out of a drive or parking lot.
Because of their small size, it can be difficult to judge the speed of a motorcycle. Motorists are encouraged to take a few extra moments to allow a motorcycle to pass before turning or proceeding into the roadway.
Preliminary data suggests the downturn in the economy may have reduced the number of motorcycle deaths in 2009 for the first time in more than a decade. While the government will release figures later this summer, motorcycle accidents had increased in each of the past 11 years — even as the number of overall traffic fatalities has declined.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Association estimates motorcycle accidents nationwide declined to 4,762 last year.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation encourages drivers to watch for motorcycles:
-Share the road: Motorcycles have a right to their own lane.
-Stay alert: Motorcycles can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spot. Take the time to check thoroughly before entering traffic or changing lanes.
-Keep a safe distance: Allow more following distance when behind a motorcycle.
Be Cautious: Be aware that most motorcycle turn signals are not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to shut them off. Be sure of a rider’s intentions before proceeding.
If you have been involved in a riding accident, contact the Carolina motorcycle accident lawyers at Lee & Smith today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 800-887-1965.