Pictured: Members of the Buncombe County Chapter of Concerned Bikers Association of North Carolina and Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, District 1 Commissioner, as she reads the Proclamation for May as Motorcycle Awareness Month.
In 2017, North Carolina had 145 fatal motorcycle crashes, according to the NCDOT. As such, Buncombe County is promoting the importance of all drivers taking the time to be safe by proclaiming May as Motorcycle Awareness Month. The Buncombe County Chapter of Concerned Bikers Association of North Carolina prompted this proclamation to combat both prejudicial attitudes toward motorcyclists and to promote public awareness for car drivers on ways to share the road safely.
Between 2013-2017, in Buncombe County alone there were 593 motorcyclist injuries and 19 fatalities (source). With this proclamation, local motorcyclist Mike Fowlers said, “I want to thank you for potentially saving my life and the lives of hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists in Buncombe County – because that’s what we’re doing.”
Here are some tips for car drivers out there to be more aware of motorcyclists (Source: Driving Tests):
- Always check your blind spots - motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles and can be more difficult to spot while merging or changing lanes.
- Be extra cautious when passing - make sure to signal your intention to pass a slower motorcyclist, and travel several car lengths ahead of the motorcyclist before returning to your lane.
- Remember that motorcycles react more quickly than cars - maintain an adequate following distance behind motorcyclists.
- Night-riding can be treacherous for motorcyclists - help riders at night by increasing your following distance, ensuring that your high beams are turned off and refraining from passing.
- Stay in your lane - in no situation are you allowed to drive your automobile in the same lane and in close proximity to a motorcycle.
- Inform motorcyclists of your intention to turn - initiate your turn signal sooner than you normally would when you know there is a motorcycle driving behind you because it takes longer for them to stop.
- Intersections are danger zones - come to a complete halt, view and obey posted traffic signs and signals, look both ways for approaching traffic, and proceed slowly.
- Watch for turning motorcycles - if you notice that a motorcycle is driving with an activated turn signal for an abnormal distance, increase your following distance so that you have time to react whenever the rider does decide to turn.
- Take a second look at left turns - before you cross a lane or lanes of traffic to turn left, take a second look for approaching motorcycle.
Some tips for motorcyclists include (Source: Motorcycle Legal Foundation):
- Always wear protective gear.
- Ride defensively – continually adjust your position within the lane to offer an escape path, and keep your distance between other motorists.
- Ride according to your skills and abilities – you don’t always have to keep up with the pack, make sure you pace yourself at your own speed.
- Maintain a safe speed – it allows for more maneuverability and reduces your stopping distance during unexpected stops.
- Beware of road hazards – watch vehicles ahead of you to see if there are bumps, dips, and other road debris.
- Make yourself visible – especially at night.
- Avoid bad weather conditions – when wet roads mix with the oil that can collect, it creates slippery hazards for motorcyclists.
- Keep a tool pouch and first aid kit on your motorcycle.
- Ride in the safest lane – it may change depending on what you’re riding around and through.
To all motorists, remember that there is no such thing as a fender bender for a motorcyclist. Drive safe, drive smart, share the road, and save a life.