The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has announced “Safety on two wheels” as the theme this month. May is officially known as both “National Bike Month” and “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month” and the NCDOT says it’s a perfect time to remember the importance of safety for both bicycles and motorcycles.
According to agency statistics, there are more than 194,000 motorcycles registered in North Carolina. In 2012, there were 4,157 motorcycle crashes that resulted in 162 fatalities and 3,970 injuries. Each year, more than 900 bicyclists are injured or killed by cars in the state.
The NCDOT offers these suggestions for other drivers on the road:
- Share the road. Bicyclists are considered vehicles in North Carolina and therefore have the same rights and responsibilities as cars and trucks; and motorcyclists have the right to a full lane.
- Stay alert. Be aware that bicycles and motorcycles can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spot, therefore; take an extra moment to thoroughly check traffic when changing lanes.
- Keep a safe distance. Allow plenty of room for passing bicyclists, and plenty of 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.
There are also important rules and tips for people who ride bicycles and motorcycles to remember, as well. The law in North Carolina requires children on bicycles under the age of 16 to wear a helmet, and it also requires motorcyclists of all ages to wear a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218 helmet. And always remember to be visible to other vehicles on the road, including wearing bright or reflective clothing. Riding a bicycle means having the same rights and duties as drivers. Obey traffic signals and stop signs. Ride with traffic; use the rightmost lane headed in the direction you are going.