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North Carolina’s Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month hopes to educate the importance of helmets to protect against brain injury

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Governor Bev Perdue proclaimed May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. The North Carolina Department of Transportation reported 142 motorcycle rider deaths in 2008. The number of fatalities is down from 192 in 2007. However, on the national average motorcycle deaths have increased every year for the past 10 years. The rise in fatalities is due in part to the increase in motorcycle sales. More affluent people over the age of 40 have begun to purchase motorcycles as a hobby.

Motorcyclists are more susceptible to severe injury or death because of the lack of protection in an accident. The bikes are also less stable in adverse weather conditions and they are harder for other motorists to see. Thankfully, in North Carolina to wear a helmet is a law. We all know the advantages of wearing helmets, but what could they help protect a rider from? Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents.

According to Wikipedia, “Traumatic brain injury (TBI, also called intracranial injury) occurs when an outside force traumatically injures the brain.” When a brain receives a blunt force trauma there is a primary impact which is when the object impacts the skull from the outside then there is a secondary impact when the brain hits the skull on the inside. Secondary injuries can include bruising and bleeding inside the brain and brain stem. This type of trauma can affect all other body systems.

Brain injuries can affect emotion functions, critical thinking and physical abilities. A traumatic brain injury will affect a victim’s entire life. Their ability to provide financial support for their family may totally disappear due to their inability to work as they once did. They may not be able to keep up on the medical bills which can spiral a family into financial ruin. Relationships with their spouse can take a toll because of the extreme stress that comes along with a debilitating injury. In many cases this type of injury will cause the victim to become dependent on public assistance for the rest of their life.

In light of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, if your husband, wife, son or daughter is a motorcycle enthusiast remind them of the importance to be visible. We all love the look of black leather, but it is important to add some type of bright reflective clothing. Even though a helmet is mandatory in North Carolina, it is not in all states. So if your loved one travels abroad remind them to keep them helmet on even if it is not mandated.

If you are not a motorcyclist there are preventions you can take when driving in your car. Keeping a safe distance from motorcycles gives them time to respond to a potential dangerous situation. When passing a motorcycle be sure to give them an entire lane to themselves. Cross completely over the other lane when passing. An important fact that many people do not know is that a motorcycle’s turn signal does not automatically shut off as a car does after a turn. The motorcyclist must manually turn the signal off, which they sometimes may forget to do. Be patient, be cautious and keep a safe distance.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper,Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the NE North Carolina (NC) border and handles car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. Our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.