Almost four out of five bikers agree:
Wear a helmet.
That’s according to a survey of North Carolina residents, funded by the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP).
Well, it seems that would be common sense, but it’s also been the law in this state since 1968. And guess what? That common-sense law has paid off.
North Carolina ranks No. 1 in the United States for lives saved because of the use of motorcycle helmets.
Not only that, but the Tar Heel State also ranks No. 1 in the nation is economic costs saved by the use of motorcycle helmets.
Well, after all, we Tar Heels are pretty used to a No. 1 ranking.
Those statistics come from a recent report by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And according the GHSP survey, along with the 78 percent of North Carolina riders who favor wearing helmets, 93 percent of people who don’t ride say motorcyclists should wear helmets. Which raises an interesting point.
Maybe those people driving cars and trucks are thinking about something that 15 percent of motorcycle riders are not: Their limitations.
Motorcyclists take special courses to obtain a license to drive their bikes. They are trained in strategies to avoid accidents, whether caused by bad weather, poor road conditions, or drivers of other vehicles.
But there’s the rub: Those other vehicles. Even people who try to be careful, conscientious drivers make mistakes. In the case of encountering a motorcycle on the road, the chances for mistakes increase.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers a list of 10 tips for car and truck drivers to avoid crashes with bikes. These are three of the best:
- 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.
- 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."
- When a motorcycle is in motion, don't think of it as motorcycle; think of it as a person, who could be your friend, neighbor, or relative.
Some states have weakened or repealed helmet requirements in recent years. After Florida eliminated its helmet law, rider deaths increased 55 percent. Costs of treating head injuries more than doubled.
Flikr – akeg's photostream
Motorcycle crashes have been increasing in North Carolina because of the growing popularity of riding, but the proportion of deaths has not, because of mandatory helmet use.
A couple of things smart bikers definitely know: 1. Other vehicles on the road are a potential danger. 2. Riding a motorcycle requires protective gear.
Thank goodness, wearing a helmet is the law. But I cringe when I see riders in shorts, or wearing flip-flops. As a personal injury attorney, I represent people hurt in bike accidents. I definitely advise wearing boots and leather along with the mandatory helmet.
And, a biker can benefit from extra training. GHSP currently supports a number of efforts to improve motorcycle safety. One example is BikeSafe, a training program conducted by law enforcement officers that helps motorcyclists improve their riding skills in a non-threatening, non-enforcement environment.
Motorcycle riding is fun and a great way to enjoy North Carolina’s gorgeous scenery – from the Atlantic beaches to the Appalachian mountains. So if you ride, protect yourself and make sure your trip has a happy ending.