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| Egerton & Associates, P.A.

Among the 35 new state laws that went into effect in North Carolina on December 1, 2011, is a new statute that establishes penalties for putting motorcycle riders in danger. It’s called The Motorcycle Safety Act, and it is my hope that drivers will become aware of this law and be more alert to the hazards that face motorcyclists.

When a driver forces a motorcycle to change lanes unsafely or run off the road, the driver will be cited with an infraction and fined $200. If the movement causes a crash that causes property damage or personal injury to the biker or a passenger, the fine will be $500.

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Motorcycle riders are at a higher risk on the road for a number of reasons. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers information for car and truck drivers, including this list of 10 tips to avoid crashes with bikes.

Ten Things All Car & Truck Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles

  1. There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, and some drivers don't "recognize" a motorcycle; they ignore it (usually unintentionally). Look for motorcycles, especially when checking traffic at an intersection.
  2. Because of its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. It may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into (or out of) a driveway, predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks.
  3. Because of its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots (door/roof pillars) or masked by objects or backgrounds outside a car (bushes, fences, bridges, etc). Take an extra moment to thoroughly check traffic, whether you're changing lanes or turning at intersections.
  4. Because of its small size a motorcycle may seem to be moving faster than it really is. Don't assume all motorcyclists are speed demons.
  5. Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light. Allow more following distance, say 3 or 4 seconds. At intersections, predict a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.
  6. Turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling, thus some riders, (especially beginners) sometimes forget to turn them off after a turn or lane change. Make sure a motorcycle's signal is for real.
  7. Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off or to allow you to share the lane with them.
  8. Maneuverability is one of a motorcycle's better characteristics, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions, but don't expect a motorcyclist to always be able to dodge out of the way.
  9. Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement makes stopping quickly difficult. Allow more following distance behind a motorcycle because it can't always stop "on a dime."
  10. When a motorcycle is in motion, don't think of it as motorcycle; think of it as a person.

Although data is not complete, motorcyclist fatalities are expected to total 4,376 in 2010 nationwide, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Deaths decreased by just 2 percent – far less than the 16 percent decrease in 2009. Perhaps North Carolina’s Motorcycle Safety Act can help improve that figure.

(For a list of North Carolina’s new laws click here.)


  1. Gravatar for Daniel  Quigley
    Daniel Quigley

    It is about time there is a Law that in affect will protect us.Now if only the Cage driving public will read and understand this.I was wrecked 2 times this year.Feb 12 and July 16 both resulted in Broken bones and damage to my Harley

  2. Gravatar for Harry

    Great law. I wish we had it in Florida with all the older drivers on the road that basically your motorcycle does not count. If a police stop them its only for a warning. They are senior citizens so you have to be considered. What about us the motorcycle ?

  3. Gravatar for Pierce Egerton
    Pierce Egerton

    Thanks for the comments Daniel & Harry. I've represented several motorcyclists who've been forced to lay their bikes down to avoid careless drivers. Hopefully our police and highway patrol will enforce this new law!

  4. Gravatar for JENI


  5. Gravatar for Hammy1000RR

    Seems the law is still a little too "soft" There isn't a day that goes by that some jackalope can't stay on their side of the road as I'm coming around a corner. In NH there are more registered motorcyclists than there are cars. We are taught to look for them, but the disregard to respect them here in NC and the surrounding states is utterly insane. Running a motorcyclist off the road should be assault with a deadly weapon (the car) and if he's hit...attempted murder.

  6. Gravatar for Gary

    Yes, A comment about the law being more strict with the ELDERLY folk drivers. I watch on a daily basis elderly fold that have to use walkers...their eye sight , ability to look back or around their vehicle to back or pull away....YET they will have a license to drive their DEATH machine.An 89 year old woman back in April flew through our front in of our business just missing our 1 year old grand baby...Think about that ...they are a threat to the bikers.too...

  7. Gravatar for J. DeGregoria
    J. DeGregoria

    After 50 years of M/C experience,and three crash incidents I am constantly watching Detroit Tanks ignore M/C's. My best saving advise is to have lights on your M/C that you can flash ON/OFF when you see vehicles trying to enter an intersection! People see M/C's but they do not see them. When you flash they look and wonder who you are that is flashing at them. How many times have you been cut off and some rare individuals apologize down road at a Light with the lame excuse that they did not see you?

  8. Gravatar for rod

    this is great sometimes we are over looked but most of the time we are taken for granted

  9. Gravatar for Mark

    This article reads like it is a car driver's responsibility to make sure motorcyclists are riding carefully.

    Should car drivers have to change the way they drive because motorcycling is inherently dangerous?

    I ride but I do not want car drivers trying to anticipate what I am doing. Motorcycling is dangerous enough already. What a waste of legislation.

    But consider the source the Motorcycle Industry aka Motorcycle Safety Foundation wants to ensure that the blame for insanely high injury/mortality rates is put squarely on the backs of drivers and riders, not on the product or their manipulation licensing systems to make it easier for more people to ride, whether they have the skills necessary or not.

  10. Gravatar for Heather

    @Mark - I don't think this law is intended to put the cages at fault. I understand it to cover those incidents where the rider was doing everything they could to stay safe and the cage was not pulling their part of the responsibility. I've been hit twice - once on purpose by a man who felt I had no right to my place in traffic (as a woman - and, yes, he actually said so), and once by a lady who couldn't even see to safely pull out into traffic and t-boned me. I can't tell you how many times I've passed by a driver texting, talking on their phone, eating a meal, etc. who started changing lanes into me without ever taking a glance. Those are the people who need reprimanding.

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