May is Motorcycle Awareness Month, and the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) is urging drivers to “Share the Road” and be aware of motorcyclists to help reduce the number of motorcycle fatalities and serious injuries.
According to a release by the DDS, 2020 saw an increase in motorcycle deaths and motorcycle serious injuries.
“In 2020, there were 192 motorcycle fatalities and 834 motorcycle serious injuries in Georgia, a 13 percent and 18 percent increase from the previous year,” the release said. “Motorcycle Safety Month and the ‘Share the Road’ campaign are a call to action to reduce these numbers.”
The release said that the key components of motorcycle safety include both motorcyclists and non-motorcyclists being aware and following the rules, including motorists being aware of motorcycles, motorcycle rider education, helmet use and compliance with traffic laws.
“Mutual responsibility is the safety message we are sharing with all road users to prevent motorcycle crashes,” DDS Commissioner Spencer Moore said in the release. “By allowing road signs, obeying speed limits, removing distractions and always staying focused on the road, deaths and injuries could be prevented.”
Georgia is one of 19 states, along with the District of Columbia, that has a universal helmet law requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets, the release said.
“Data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated helmets to be 37 percent more effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists,” the release said.
Helmets worn on a motorcycle must be compliant to Department of Transportation (DOT) standards, and the Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program (GMSP) recommends a full-face helmet for the most protection.
In addition to wearing a helmet, Georgia law requires motorcyclists to be properly licensed to operate their vehicle without restrictions. Motorcycle education courses provide the best way to get a Class M license.
“The Basic RiderCourse is essential to prepare new riders to be road ready,” GMSP Program Manager Holly Hegyesi said in the release. “Rider education doesn’t end with the BRC. It is important for riders of all levels to access continued rider education, such as the Basic RiderCourse 2 and Advanced RiderCourse, to hone skills and stay up to date with safety measures.”
While motorcyclists should be responsible for safety measures like wearing helmets and taking safety courses, other motorists must also be aware of motorcycles on the road, the release said.
“Motorcycles are smaller and can be less visible to passenger vehicles during bad weather and heavy traffic,” the release said. “It is vital that drivers exercise awareness and drive undistracted, being Georgia’s hands-free laws. The GMSP’s ‘Share the Road’ campaign emphasizes this shared responsibility to protect motorcyclists and reduce rider fatalities.”
For more information about motorcycle training and safety, go to www.dds.georgia.goov/gmsp-riders, www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycles, or www.iihs.org/topics/motorcycles#helmet-laws.