Local News

Motorcycle Deaths Triple in Decade

Posted April 21, 2008

— The number of motorcyclists killed in wrecks statewide has tripled in the last 10 years, officials said Monday.

The state recorded 183 motorcycle rider deaths in 2007, up from 61 a decade earlier. Nationwide, deaths of motorcyclists jumped 140 percent during the same period.

Mild weather, which allows for extended riding seasons, and a 17 percent increase in motorcycle registrations over the past two years have contributed to the higher number of North Carolina deaths, officials said.

A Millbrook High School graduate died Thursday in a motorcycle wreck in the North Carolina mountains. Authorities said Cameron Wagner, 20, a student at Western Carolina University, lost control of his bike. Inexperience with the bike was the biggest factor in the crash, authorities said.

Gov. Mike Easley declared this week as Motorcycle Safety Week in North Carolina.

The Governor's Highway Safety Program urged motorcyclists to wear helmets meeting federal safety standards and to wear bright or reflective clothes to be more visible to other drivers. Other drivers should stay alert for motorcyclists and keep a safe distance from them, officials said.


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  • mtr Apr 22, 2008

    If helmets help so much, why is that Iowa which is one of only three States with absolutely no helmet law reporting that in 2006 they had 57 motorcycle deaths? Ten of them caused by dear, they do not have that problem here in NC.

    Now some will say but they have a shorter riding season that could be true, but it is maybe 1 month shorter not 3 months.

    But lets say we use that as an argument, then how is SC who only has a 16 and under helmet law reporting 120 deaths for 2006 because if anything it has a longer season then NC.

    Maybe it is because without the fatigue, helmet weight and loss of vision/hearing due to a helmet there are less accidents.
    New Hampshire and Iowa, which have no helmet laws, reported fatality rates of 3.0 and 3.5, per 10,000 motorcycles, respectively, in 2006. By comparison, the rates in Mississippi and Maryland, which require helmets for all riders, were much higher - 20 and 12 respectively

  • oldschooltarheel Apr 22, 2008

    Sign that donor card & hop on board. There is a paucity of healthy organs for transplant & motorcyclists are generally young & healthy - great donors. In fact, repealing the helmet requirement would increase the organ pool further.

  • OLD PIRATE 2 Apr 21, 2008

    Numerically this is a non-story. # of cycles up 17% in two years. But stats on fatalities is over 10 years. Could we please compare apples and other fruits...
    I ride and I've been lucky. I've only had one close call and that was a stop sign runner. There are a lot of us out there and the # will climb with price of gas. You crazy car drivers better watch it, cause I'm watching you.

  • Jeff_W Apr 21, 2008

    Motorcyclist are NOT the ONLY speeders on the road! I have become a motorcycle rider as a result of increasing fuel costs. Obviously, I ride even more cautiously than I drive because there is very little room for error. This much I can say as a new cyclist and law enforcement officer, the vast majority of riders conform to speed limits and safe riding practices. I do agree that there are a few bad apples who regularly ride outside the scope of their bike, experience, and law; but they are the few who give all a bad name. That having been said, know what you are talking about BEFORE painting any group (in this case motorcyclists) with such a broad brush.

    For the record, I do hope that as more cycles hit the roads, that the average driver will begin to take more notice and be more cognizant of them. People are looking for large vehicles, they tend to just overlook the small person and bike approaching them.

  • octoberem Apr 21, 2008

    I am a rider of 3 years. I have taken the Motorcycle Saftey Foundations class and I will have to agree that INEXPERIENCE is probably one of the main reasons people are in fatal accidents. BUT I want you to know that my husband, with over 30 years of riding experience and myself have not going riding one day in the past 3 years that we have not seen a driver in an automobile, while talking on their cell phones pull out in front of us or one of our friends riding with us. We plead with other that don't ride bikes to PLEASE pay attention to all of us out on the road. We do everything in our power to make sure we and our daughter are safe when we are on our bikes as well as in our car. The loud pipes people complain about do SAVE LIVES!

  • mep Apr 21, 2008

    My wife has worked with several patients who were either riding without a helmet, or a non-DOT approved helemt. She tells me these guys are pretty messed up, and require a lot of care that is very expensive. It is also really hard on the family members that have to care for the injured cyclist. Of course, no one deliberatly rides with the intent on getting hurt, but they should ride with the intention of being safe. Wear a helmet, obey the laws, and be happy!

  • MadBiker Apr 21, 2008

    After riding for several years and having people pull out in front of me or change lanes into me, I decided to sell the motorcycle to avoid becoming a statistic.

  • anneonymousone Apr 21, 2008

    It's interesting to me that the increased tonnage of the average enclosed vehicle is not mentioned as a factor in the increase in deaths of motorcyclists. An SUV is going to cause more wreckage than a two-door car, on average.

    Now, with younger drivers getting the SUVs from their parents who have bought something wiser and more fuel efficient, the same kids who were riding in SUVs ten years ago are now less experienced drivers behind the wheel of them.

  • smcallah Apr 21, 2008

    You can't always blame the other drivers for not paying attention and seeing the motorcycles.

    I pay great attention on the road, better than 99% of the people out there, and motorcyclists coming up behind me at 90 and suddenly passing me on the right happens a lot. What would they do if I was changing over into the right lane to exit? Die is what. I don't even have a chance to change lanes to get out of their way so they don't pass me on the right, because they appear out of no where basically.

    There are a lot of bikers that do get turned left in front of and have accidents that way, and that can be the fault of either the car driver or the biker, one is not paying attention, and one is speeding. But for the most part, it's the people that are going 90-110 on the freeway that are dying.

  • mike honcho Apr 21, 2008

    I can tell you a majority of motorcycle crashes are inexpirenced riders. Improper braking, and improper curve negoiation and number 1 and 2 causes of single vehicle crashes involving motorcycles. there are a handful of cars turning left in front of MC's but with proper braking techniques, they greatly increase their chance of survival. With the price of gas @ 3.50 a gallon and no relief in sight, the number of registered motorcycles in N.C. are going to increase, unfortunately, so are the number of crashes and deaths.