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Motorcycle riders aim to spread awareness this month

Posted May 12, 2009
Updated May 13, 2009

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— May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and riders are urging motorists to share the road. And for good reason. North Carolina's motorcycle death rate is the eighth highest in the nation, according to AAA Carolinas.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Motorcycles represent 2 percent of registered vehicles but are involved in 12 percent of fatal traffic deaths. The death toll rose from 97 in 2003 to 190 in 2007.

A month ago, Siim Eiland became a Harley-Davidson motorcycle owner. He said the higher crash and fatality rates didn't curb his desire to ride.

"I've wanted a motorcycle for years," he said.

However, the 23-year-old says his parents were against it.

"Particularly, my mom, she hated the idea of a motorcycle. But then I got older and I no longer listen to mom so much," Eiland said.

A wreck involving a motorcycle tied up traffic during rush hour Tuesday on Interstate 40 at Harrison Avenue in Cary.  The unidentified rider was injured. The state Highway Patrol has not yet said why the motorcycle, a vehicle and a tractor-trailer collided.

Motorcycle riders are often the injured person in collisions with vehicles, as they have no protection, except for a helmet.

"In this business, it's not uncommon you come in Monday morning and you hear about one of your customers that was in an accident," said Scott Northrup, general manager of Ray Price Harley-Davidson.

Northrup said he believes the responsibility of motorcycle safety is shared equally between riders and drivers.

"Be careful and pay attention to the cars, and the cars pay attention to motorcycles. We're here and we're not going anywhere," Northrup said.

Northrup also said he believes before anyone is licensed to ride, they should be required to take a motorcycle safety course. But state law does not require a road test or safety course to obtain a learners' permit to drive a motorcycle.

"Safety is number one. It's very important to us," Northrup said.

Safety tools and defensive driving techniques he said are crucial to avoiding a crash. Having taken a safety course, Eiland agreed.

"There's no daydreaming on a motorcycle. You daydream, bad things happen," Eiland said.

Being alert and smart, Eiland said the feeling he experiences on his motorcycle makes it worth the risk.

"I can not describe the feeling because it's amazing," Eiland said. "You got to live one day at a time and enjoy it."

Safety experts say it is important for both riders and drivers to be keenly aware of a vehicle's blind spot. They also suggest drivers take a second look when a motorcycle is approaching because it is sometimes difficult to judge how far away it is and how fast it is going.


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  • SME2 May 13, 2009

    "Motorcycles represent 2 percent of registered vehicles but are involved in 12 percent of fatal traffic deaths."

    Pretty much a stupid statistic when you factor that a motorcyclist is in a open air unbelted situation when they wreck.

  • Professor May 13, 2009

    bad drivers + motorcycle = carnage

    Correct. I know people who drives motorcycles for over 30 years and never had a wreck. They did not act foolish on the highways.

  • mtr May 13, 2009

    All I'm saying is I'm pro-choice. Helmets do not save lives. If they did then the government would make you wear them in cars. leo-nc would love that another reason to stop you.

    If you think that helmet will save you then enjoy it, but the facts do not support that, and I have linked them already.

    Contact your local ABATE and let them show you the real deal on helmets.

  • LocalYokel May 13, 2009

    bad drivers + motorcycle = carnage

  • leo-nc May 13, 2009

    "Wow what logic, let me continue Be smarter, buy a SUV Be even smarter, everyone drive Hummers.

    Be safe, never leave home."----

    Lighten up Francis, it was a joke.

  • frosty May 13, 2009

    In riding a bike (motorized or not) you have to remember that you are the most vulnerable irregardless of the law. So an extra level of defensive driving is called for. They are not out to kill you but they can. So you need to spend more time looking for threats be it a teen driver talking on a cell phone or a squirrel looking to cross the road.

    Drivers need to take in account of all vehicles attributes and limitations, bikes, cars or trucks. Be it the one they are on or next to.

    I would ride with a helmet weather on not it was required. It depends on what level of protection you need. The dumbest rider I saw was in SC riding a sport bike with just shorts and flip flops. Obviously he had never seen a case of road rash.

    And the bikers that ride with loud pipes and that ride in groups that congest traffic are not doing their cause any good.

    I tend to refer to some as loud obnoxious people on loud obnoxious bikes.

    Best advice, cooperation on the road.

  • MrX-- May 13, 2009

    The picture shows a rider on a Black bike with a black jacket and a black helmet. Perhaps it would be a good idea to wear brighter more visible colors in addition to a helmet.

  • homebrewer May 13, 2009

    "Be smart, buy a car"

    Wow what logic, let me continue
    Be smarter, buy a SUV
    Be even smarter, everyone drive Hummers.

    Be safe, never leave home.

  • Of The South May 13, 2009

    Panther: Every day we get older, population increases, and crime increases along with a world of other negative factors.

    I would venture to say our survival rate is diminishing quickly whether we own bikes or not.

  • Panther May 13, 2009

    Sadly I gave up my bike when I realized that my survival rate is diminishing quickly. I miss riding a bike, but have sense changed to a convertible. The older I get the slower I become in reflexes and I recognize that. I would like to spend my retirement for many more years to come with my wife, and not having her visit me at the hospital or cemetery. I see way too many drivers on the road in a hurry to get no where’s. They don’t drive, they AIM, all the time chatting on cell phones or trying to eat or a host of any other distractions. It’s too bad cause I do miss my bike.