May declared as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

RALEIGH -- Spring means warm weather and the seasonal return of motorcycles on North Carolina's highways. Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett announced today that May has been declared Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month to remind motorists of the importance of motorcycle safety and sharing the road.

"More than 400,000 North Carolinians ride motorcycles on our highways and thousands more are traveling through our state," Tippett said. "We need to be mindful that motorcycles are out there and we need to share the road."

According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, there were 60 North Carolina motorcycle rider fatalities in 1997 and 152 motorcycle rider fatalities in 2005. This 141 percent increase far exceeds the 99 percent national increase for the same time period.

Motorcycles represent 2.11 percent of all registered vehicles in North Carolina, but account for nearly 10 percent of total traffic fatalities, according to FARS. North Carolina has more than 160,000 registered motorcycles and 401,800 licensed drivers who have either a motorcycle endorsement or a motorcycle learner's permit.

The Governor's Highway Safety Program offers the following tips to motorcyclists and motorists.

  • Always wear a helmet. It is the law in North Carolina. A motorcycle rider not wearing a helmet is five times more likely to sustain a critical head injury than a helmeted rider.
  • Be visible at all times. This includes wearing bright or reflective clothing.
  • 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 or entering traffic.
  • Keep a safe distance. Allow more following distance behind motorcycles.
  • Be cautious. Be aware that turn signals on a motorcycle are not self-canceling, thus some riders sometimes forget to turn them off after a turn or lane change.

For more information regarding motorcycle cycle safety, call Beth Horner with the Governor's Highway Safety Program at 919-733-3083, or visit their Web site at: www.ncdot.org/programs/ghsp.

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