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iStock_000016429140XSmall-300x200Motorcyclists know the dangers that intersections present. Often these dangers are posed by caged drivers who, for example, fail to see a motorcyclist making a turn. The Atlanta motorcycle community has lost a great friend recently in a different kind of intersection crash. After a night of work as a bartender, a young man was sitting on his bike at an intersection and then, in a flash, he was killed. An allegedly intoxicated driver of an SUV came along behind the biker and not only struck him, but dragged him a few feet, pushing the bike into the intersection. The young man died as a result of his injuries in this tragic and fatal motorcycle crash.

The SUV driver is now charged with several crimes under Georgia law. These include the serious criminal charge of homicide by vehicle in the first degree under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393 (a). This offense carries a prison sentence of “not less than three years nor more than 15 years.” Other offenses include driving under the influence. The crash occurred at the intersection of Ponce de Leon and Clifton Road which was closed for several hours after the crash. The authorities performed an investigation of the crash site to preserve evidence and document what happened.

We have learned some meaningful things about this fallen Atlanta motorcyclist as his community mourns his loss and expresses their grief. After the fatal crash, his co-workers and employers have shared their thoughts and feelings about this young victim. The deceased biker was a popular and beloved man. His co-workers at a Midtown restaurant and bar shared their experience of him. They say not only was he really good at his bartending job, he was also really good at being a friend and kind person. In the notice released by his employer he was said to have been not only a cherished mentor, but a friend, both generous and caring. They called him “inspiring.” Our hearts are heavy learning about this wonderful person, friend and colleague. We know that his family and friends are hurting now and we are thinking of them.

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Did you know that International Ride to Work Day took place last month. This special day is intended to celebrate the joy of motorcycling and to raise awareness for safer riding. Here at Georgia on Two Wheels, we are all for that!  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration points out that in 2015 there were nearly 5,000 fatal accidents involving motorcyclists. All bike enthusiasts want to do all we can do lower that number. Unfortunately, this represents an 8-percent increase from the prior year. Another tough statistic is that fatalities involving motorcycles are more likely to happen than fatalities involving passenger vehicles.

The difference between life and death can be something very controllable, like speed on a curve, or keeping your eyes up on an intersection turn or wearing a protective helmet. Helmets are so important to safe riding. We cannot stress this enough. It should be a top priority for all riders who want to ride safely. And of course, riding sober is right up there too as a key for safe riding.

One trend for the bike industry is very positive. That trend has become more and more evident: bikes are the ride of choice for some in the younger generation. With older riders slowing down both in their lives and in their buying of new motorcycles, the trend for younger riders is welcome by all. Young riders who were disinterested in bikes in previous years, are picking up the many new offerings especially created for new riders from Honda, Harley and other manufacturers. Younger riders, millennials in fact, are being pulled in by bikes that are meant just for them. If this new rider generation sticks, it will be very good news for the bike makers.

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Motorcycle-rider-on-fall-roadway-300x199Important news for all motorcycle enthusiasts. The ground-breaking naturalistic riding study sponsored by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) is finally published and provides an important contribution to rider safety and why crashes happen. We want to share some of the highlights of this study with our readers. The collaboration with the MSF and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) took several years to compile and gathered information through riders while they were on their rides. Prior to this study, motorcycle crash data had been gathered either after an accident or in a simulator. We have mentioned this study in prior posts, but now that it is fully published, we would like to share some items of interest with you.

Just to recap. This study used 100 motorcyclists riding more than 350,000 miles on their own bikes. The riders varied in age from 21 to 79 years of age. Riders were located in various locations around the country, California, Arizona, Florida and Virginia. The information was gathered over two years for some riders and less time for others. The opening introduction to the study says that it is captures factors that both “increased and decreased risk for riders based on observed crashes and near-crashes.”

Even though motorcycle deaths had been declining in the period prior to the study, injuries had increased. No prior research was able to capture the information and data collected by this more high-tech study. In the past, riders were interviewed after a crash or a crash was reconstructed which is helpful, but not exact. This more high-tech study sheds light on crash and near-crash events from the perspective of the rider. In the study, motorcycles were rigged with video cameras, GPS information and other data captures, including braking and acceleration. No other study has captured so much data about riding and risks. We summarize the findings here.

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iStock_000001912776XSmall-300x207There has been a resurgence of bicycle riding in American cities for several years now. Bike lanes and share the road efforts have been underway literally in every state in our nation. The renown National Geographic magazine has been documenting some pretty amazing cycling in the past few years. In an article a couple of years ago, one writer asked, “Are Bikes the New Tour Bus?” The writer advocated that riding a bike is the best way to see a city. City riding is not the only cycling that has been on the rise in recent years. Longer cycling adventures, not just city riding or day rides, are also a big part of cycling in America.

One adventurous rider and writer for the NatGeo, decided to traverse our big country on the 40th anniversary of what is called the TransAmerica bike trail. As in the days of the first railroad, this trail crosses our big nation and was the great project of the Adventure Cycling Association several decades ago. This thriving nonprofit organization is on a mission to provide information and support to those wanting to ride just about anywhere in the United States. Not only do they provide maps and routes, they have guided tours that cyclists can join for a great riding experience.

If you are considering a long or a shorter ride, lots of information is available these days to make your ride more comfortable and safe. Bike riding on a long ride requires planning, but rest assured there are many others out there who have gathered lots of information for avid cyclists to review before getting out on a major ride.

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Motorcycle4In our last post, we shared some safety tips for new and returning riders. For all riders, safety should be top of mind when purchasing a new bike or starting the spring riding season. We shared information about rider training, choosing a bike that “fits” and other key steps riders can take to keep their rides safe and sound. Here are a few more tips and reminders for our readers on bike and riding safety as the spring season begins.

Helmet Use Can Help

Georgia law requires that all motorcycle riders wear a helmet. Additionally, eye protection is required when the motorcycle has no windshield. Around the country there is controversy among riders about the use of helmets. Some riders have lobbied to remove helmet requirements from their respective state laws. There are many states in which helmet laws were enacted and then repealed. Even though use of a helmet might not be preferred by some riders, it can protect riders from serious injury.

Not every motorcycle accident involves a head injury. But according to statistics reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, when a rider goes down with no helmet and suffers a head injury, that injury is nearly forty percent more likely to be fatal. The rider is also much more likely to suffer a brain injury. As we have learned over the past few decades, even a minor concussion can cause what is called Mild Traumatic Brain Injury or MTBI. These aren’t mild to those who suffer headaches, dizziness, confusion and other issues for months after. So imagine what a more serious brain injury can involve. Helmet use is a wise choice for all riders. Continue reading →

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scooters_2The promise of spring weather undoubtedly will also bring new motorcyclists out on the roads. In light of that, we have a few suggestions for our Atlanta area and Georgia readers who are new to riding or are considering purchasing a bike this spring. When you get out to take a look at bikes you might want to purchase, your dealer should give you some guidance on a good first motorcycle. If you are buying a used bike, consider these tips before purchasing and riding. Here is the first part of a two-part post on what you should consider in getting out to ride for the first time.

Safety Made Simple — Rider Education 

The Georgia Department of Driver Services offers rider education programs under the Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program and can make your licensing process go smoothly. Riders under the age of 18 must take this course to get licensed and those over 18 can present proof of completion to avoid taking a road test. Safe riding for new riders should involve training of some kind. In addition to Georgia programs, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers courses that can make your riding experience much more satisfying and can save you some precious dollars in insurance discounts. Another safety measure is to invest in a bike with an antilock braking system. Safe braking can be challenging for new riders. ABS brakes help riders avoid skidding in weather and sudden stops. Continue reading →

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1214589454Q2B5aOFor those who have waited for the winter to end before taking their bicycles out, rest assured the weather will improve and more riders will be out in earnest soon. Whether you are an experienced rider or just got your first great bike and can’t wait to get out on the Georgia roads or trails, safety comes first. So what do experienced riders and responders recommend for those going out for the season? Here are some safety tips we collected from safety experts to keep your ride fun and injury-free.

Think safety before going out on your bike. The Centers for Disease Control has a list of preventative measures to protect your head. So, start at the top and make sure you protect against head injuries. These can occur when a rider falls. Even a fall that doesn’t cause other injuries and seems uneventful can turn out to be harmful or even deadly. Just as in skiing accidents, a rider can fall and have a brain bleed and not know it. So, if you are riding and fall and your helmet is damaged, that could be a sign that your head was hit harder than you think. And it is what happens inside your skull that is the worry. If you begin having a headache, that is a sign that your brain could be affected by the fall. Other issues that could signal a brain injury include blurred or impaired vision. You or a riding partner should contact 911 so that you can get checked out for injury.

Another area of concern in a fall are spinal issues. If you have experienced a fall and believe you might be injured do a couple of things to rule out your spine. Try to turn your head slowly to make sure you have normal range of motion. If you do not, stop moving your head and contact 911. If you have any numbness or tingling in your limbs, this could be a symptom of spinal injury so contact medical help.

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Highway Fatalities Across America

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has long been a champion of motorcycle safety. Georgia’s governor is a member of this organization and also provides a great deal of motor vehicle safety information on the site Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. According to the GHSA, there is possibly good news mixed in with not-so-good news on traffic safety for motorcyclists.

First, some good news — the number of overall fatalities on American roads is down from 40,000 in past decades to 35,000 in 2015. This should seem like a fine improvement. But the reductions we have seen across the country for many decades are now moving in the wrong direction. An eight percent increase in traffic fatalities in 2015 is a very concerning trend. But even worse is the upward trend in pedestrian and motorcycle fatalities which amounts to about ten percent.

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helmet-on-bicycle-10045610Here at Georgia on Two Wheels, we watch motorcycle trends, including such things as safer riding and how to avoid injury. As we come to the close of 2016, our hope is that this past year’s statistics on how riders fared across the country will be an improvement over 2015. We will not know that for a while as the statistics are gathered and published early next year. Our further hope is that 2017 is the safest year ever for both bike riders and bicyclists.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reviews and analyzes statistics on motorcycle riding in America. They also keep track of how safety measures help avoid injury and keep riders safer on the roads with other vehicles. We often share stories of riders who have been seriously or fatally injured while doing something they love … riding. We share them to make our readers more aware of what they can do to stay safe on their rides. We know for example, that many serious or fatal bike crashes happen while riders are traveling through, or turning at, intersections. We also know that helmet use can help protect riders. Whether you ride once a month or every day, we want all riders to make sure they know the latest data on how to avoid serious injury. The IIHS has recently noted what the federal government has reported … riders are significantly more likely to be injured or lose their lives than those in cars.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) noted in 2015 that a  over 4,550 motorcyclists lost their lives in accidents in that year. Although fatal motorcycle crashes declined in the early 1980’s, that decline turned into a steady increase until 2008. The increase has leveled out in the past few years. Out of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2015, about 13 percent were those riding motorcycles. Last year, nearly 30 percent of those fatally injured were those who did not hold a valid driver’s license, while only 15 percent of those fatally injured in other motor vehicles did not hold a driver’s license. Another interesting statistic is that in 2015 about 30 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were under the age of 30. In 1975, 80 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were under the age of 30.

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fallThe summer is long gone in the rear view mirror and we are fully into autumn now. Riders enjoy the gorgeous changing of the leaves on autumn rides, but something else changed. The sun is setting very early and darkness approaches much more quickly. Some riders prefer to ignore this early darkness, but it is important to consider how the fall changes the way we ride. We want our readers to consider some the hazards for motorcycle crashes that the changing weather, temperatures and light bring to the joy of riding.

One of the most beautiful aspects of fall riding are the changing of the leaves. The problem is, these leaves end up falling on the road and can cause many hazards. Not only can they hide defects in the road, but they also make a slippery surface. So as we ride through the changing colors, it is important to pay attention to where the leaves are and be more careful around them. Because the days are getting shorter, make sure that your bike lights are in great working order. And don’t forget to wear reflective gear so that caged drivers can see you more readily. Even the sunlight changes at this time of year and since the sun is lower in the sky, it can cause more distracting glare.

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