For some individuals, there is nothing like the feel of the wind whipping past them as they sail down the freeway on two wheels. The heat of the sun is tempered by the cool wind, and riders are able to experience their own neighborhoods and familiar roads in a totally different way than being encased in a car. Whether riders prefer a Harley touring bike or a Kawasaki Ninja, the freedom is the same.
But so are the risks. No matter the type of motorcycle, riders and passengers experience the same safety issues on the road and need similar protections. Riders need special training and practice to master the art of safely maneuvering a motorcycle, and car drivers need to pay attention for bikers on the roads. Without these precautions, motorcycle accidents lead to injuries and deaths.
Warm Weather Brings Out Bikers
You might not see many riders during the holidays, but once the temperature begins to rise in March you can expect to see people back on their bikes by April. By summer, car drivers and truckers often share the road with a lone motorcycle rider or even groups of bikers enjoying a long ride or heading to an event.
The Federal Highway Administration estimates there were 8.4 million motorcycles on the roads in 2014. There were 199,575 registered motorcycles in Georgia. For about every 50 people, one of them owns a motorcycle.
As the number of motorcycles on the roads grow, so do the number of accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,586 people died in motorcycle crashes and 92,000 motorcyclists were injured in 2014 in the U.S. While fatalities are down from the year before, injuries rose.
Georgia Motorcycle Laws
To get a motorcycle license in Georgia, you must be at least 17 years old. There are a few options to obtain a license. You can earn a learner’s permit and then practice riding before taking a road test; you can go to a motorcycle safety course; or you can go to the Department of Driver Services and take the knowledge and riding test without a permit or course first.
Motorcyclists must follow the rules of the road like other vehicle drivers, but they have other laws to abide by as well. On public roads, riders must wear eye protection unless their bike has a windscreen and all riders, of any age, must wear a safety helmet.
Additionally, despite drivers seeing motorcycles drive down the center of two lanes, this is illegal. Georgia law prohibits a motorcyclist from passing another vehicle in the same occupied lane or from driving between lanes of traffic or rows of vehicles. But two motorcycles can share a lane, riding two abreast.
May Was Motorcycle Awareness Month
To promote awareness and safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration dubbed May as Motorcycle Awareness Month. The theme is “share the road” in the hopes that car and truck drivers, who often cause motorcycle accidents, will learn to be more aware of other types of vehicles on the road.
The NHTSA also focused on preventing drunk driving. It can be extremely tempting for motorcyclists to get back on their bikes after having a few drinks, but this significantly increases the risk of crashes and fatalities.
While the NHTSA used one month to campaign for motorcycle safety, the need for awareness of the risks and how to avoid crashes is year-round. Motorcycle accidents in Georgia can happen in January as well as in June, and riders and other motorists need to do everything they can to prevent these incidents.
What Riders Can Do to Stay Safe
Avoiding accidents depends greatly on the motorcyclist’s skills and experience on the bike. Motorcycle drivers can take certain steps to avoid crashes including:
- Take a class. Georgia law does not require someone to take a motorcycle safety and riding course, however, it is highly recommended. These courses give new riders the basic tools to maneuver their bikes safely and avoid crashes.
- Practice. No one is required to have a permit first, but like a class, it is highly recommended that a rider practice before heading out onto public roads. Large empty parking lots may be exactly the place to practice right and left turns.
- Don’t speed. Speeding contributes to many vehicle and motorcycle crashes. Speeding on turns specifically can lead to riders wiping out and hurting themselves.
- Don’t weave between cars. Because a motorcycle is so small, it can be tempting to ride between cars or weave in and out of traffic. But this increases the risk that cars don’t see a motorcyclist and causes accidents.
How Car and Truck Drivers Can Help
It is not only up to motorcyclists to decrease the number of accidents. It is also the duty of car and truck drivers to take reasonable care on the roads, look out for motorcycles, and avoid causing accidents. Other drivers can help avoid motorcycle accidents by:
- Remember motorcycles. It might seem like common sense, but remind yourself that there are motorcycles on the road as well as larger vehicles. Sometimes you miss seeing a motorcycle right in front of you because you are too busy looking for a car.
- Be aware of blind spots. Motorcyclists do not do it on purpose, but it is easy for them to fit into a car or truck’s blind spots. Drivers need to know this and be extra careful. Always check over your shoulder before changing lanes.
- Give motorcycles space. Many motorcyclists are rear-ended because cars follow too closely. Drivers should give motorcycles plenty of space on the road in case the rider needs to suddenly stop.
Do You Need an Augusta Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
If you were in an accident on your motorcycle because of another driver’s actions, do not wait to get help. Contact the dedicated personal injury attorneys in Augusta at Ted. A. Greve & Associates, P.A.by phone or online to learn about your rights. They can answer your questions, help you file insurance claims, and if necessary, help you file suit against the person who caused your injuries.