According to AAA Carolinas, nationwide motorcycle accident fatalities have fallen by 16 percent. This was not the case in North Carolina, however, where motorcycle deaths have spiked 29 percent compared to last year. Since other types of traffic deaths are decreasing statewide, many officials are puzzled why motorcycle fatalities are not following suit.
So far this year 97 people have died in motorcycle accidents on North Carolina roads. Several factors are potentially to blame for the large number of fatalities. These include a high number of inexperienced drivers, lack of safety training and a growing number of riders on the roads. David Parsons, President and CEO of AAA Carolinas, stated that motorcycle use has increased as people try to conserve gas and save money during difficult economic times.
What Is Being Done to Improve Motorcycle Safety in North Carolina?
State Senator Harry Brown sponsored recently passed legislation that aims to address both driver inexperience and lack of motorcycle safety training.
Starting in January, anyone under age 18 applying for a motorcycle license will be required to pass a mandatory safety class taught by either the Motorcycle Safety Foundation or the North Carolina Motorcycle Safety Education Program. Since younger riders only account for a small portion of motorcycle fatalities, authorities hope to expand the requirement if the safety training is proven effective. Currently, older riders have the option of taking the course, but it is not mandatory.
The new law also closes a loophole that allowed motorcyclists to ride legally without having to pass a road test. Under the previous law, a motorcycle rider who passed a written test received a permit to ride that expired after 18 months, but could be renewed indefinitely. Consequently, riders could avoid having to pass the road test required for a regular license.
Beginning in January a motorcycle learner's permit is valid for only 12 months, and can be renewed only one time for six more months.
With any luck, these changes will work to reverse the alarming rise in motorcycle deaths and make North Carolina roads safer for everyone.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident an experienced personal injury attorney can provide information about your legal rights and work to advance your interests.