After a string of fatal motorcycle crashes in the Atlanta metro area, particularly those in which bikers have been struck by other vehicles as those vehicles are either making a turn or the biker makes a turn, we have set out to remind our readers about the importance of safe riding. Earlier this year, the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety launched a safe riding campaign, with the aim of reducing motorcycle crash fatalities. Over the two prior years, the highest rates of fatal crashes came from metro counties, including Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett and neighboring Newton County.
As a Gwinnett County motorcycle injury lawyer, this latest string of bike crashes and fatalities concerns me greatly. I represent riders and their families and support them through what can be traumatic and life-changing experiences. Although the statistics show that Georgia had slightly fewer fatalities in 2012, than in 2011, over 130 people lost their lives in bike crashes. This why both motorists and riders, have been asked to renew their commitment to sharing the road.
In Georgia, we have over 200,000 registered motorcycles — less than two and one half percent of all registered vehicles. But sadly, in 2011 (for example) motorcycle deaths amounted to 11 percent of all fatalities on our roads and highways. This type of statistic is found in other states around the country. It is not just true in Georgia. In 2011 motorcycle deaths in the United States amounted to 14 percent, with a three percent average registration across the country. We have seen a drop in fatalities in Georgia from 2005.
But as we are all aware, any fatality on a bike is a tragedy and our fatal crash rates in urban and rural areas are too high. In general, bike riders are 30 times more likely to die in a collision than are those driving or riding in other types of motor vehicles.
We know that proper helmet use is one reason why riders are surviving crashes that would other wise be fatal. The importance of the proper helmet can never be overstated.
Education is also key in safety. About 22 percent of riders in motorcycle crashes do not have the proper license or have no license. And it is said that because bikes are fuel efficient, some riders do not get the background they need to ride safely. Right here in Georgia, our Department of Driver Services has 22 motorcycle safety training sites and certifies nearly 15 additional sites around the state.
Here is are some safety reminders: don’t drive impaired or distracted; do wear protective a helmet and bright clothing with reflectors; avoid riding in bad weather; always signal a lane change and use hand signals when possible in addition to your turn signal; make sure to position your bike before a turn so that other drivers can best see you.
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