Motorcycle Safety Month
According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, in 2017 there were 3,600 motorcycle-related crashes that resulted in 141 fatalities – a decrease from 151 fatalities in 2016. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety reported there were 2,279 motorcycle-related crashes in 2017 that resulted in 114 fatalities – a decrease from 139 fatalities in 2016.
These high numbers are the reason that May has been proclaimed National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. There are many events throughout the month dedicated to promoting motorcycle safety and encouraging riders and drivers alike to work harder to avoid these collisions.
Motorists can help make roads safer for motorcyclists by taking some simple precautions:
- Be extra cautious on weekends, when motorcyclists take to the road.
- Provide motorcyclists adequate room to maneuver. Follow at least five to six seconds behind them.
- Allow extra maneuvering room in areas with potholes, pavement transitions and railroad crossings. Motorcyclists may need to slow down, stop or adjust their lane position
- Never try to share a lane with a motorcycle. Motorcycles have the same right to lanes as any other vehicle.
- Never drive distracted or impaired.
- If a motorcycle is nearby, check your mirrors carefully before changing lanes. Motorcycles may be in your blind spots or difficult to see because of their smaller size.
One of the most common reasons drivers give for cutting off or pulling out in front of a motorcycle is that they “didn’t see it.”
Motorcyclists can prevent crashes and injuries by:
- Headlights must remain on at all times.
- Stay at least three to four seconds behind a vehicle they intend to pass, checking oncoming traffic from the left side of the lane, signaling the intention to turn and then checking for oncoming traffic before passing.
- Never ride distracted or impaired.
- Checking their rearview mirror and quickly turn their head to ensure the vehicle is a safe distance behind them when completing a pass.
- Wearing helmets that meet a high protection standard.
- Wearing proper clothing, eyewear and sturdy, closed toe footwear.
For any riders interested in getting one-on-one or group training, MotoMark1 in North Carolina offers state-of-the-art motorcycle training courses utilizing instructor-to-student communication. MotoMark1 employs AAA certified instructors that have been training riders for 16 years and has locations across North Carolina in Jacksonville, Wilkesboro, Burlington and Fayetteville.
Hit-and-Run Deaths Hit Record High
Last year in North Carolina, there were 56 recorded hit-and-runs, according to the NCDOT. South Carolina data was not available at press time.
With the number of hit-and-run crashes on the rise, AAA is calling for drivers to be alert on the road in order to avoid a deadly crash and always remain on the scene if a crash occurs.
AAA researchers examined common characteristics of hit-and-run crashes and found that:
- An average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred each year since 2006.
- Nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-run crashes were pedestrians or bicyclists.
- Hit-and-run deaths in the U.S. have increased an average of 7.2 percent each year since 2009.
The report found that most victims of fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians or bicyclists. Over the past 10 years, nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths were caused by hit-and-run crashes, meanwhile just one percent of all driver fatalities in that same time period. To decrease the chances of being involved in a crash with a pedestrian or bicyclist, drivers should:
- Be aware: Pedestrians may act unpredictably and can walk into the path of travel at any point.
- Be cautious: Look out for small children and be alert to areas where there are likely to be more pedestrians. These include school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and intersections.
- Be patient: When trying to pass a pedestrian or cyclist, give plenty of space and keep them in your line of sight.
- Be vigilant: Drivers should always yield to pedestrians, even if they walk into the road from an area other than a crosswalk.
Currently, every state has laws that make it illegal for a driver involved in a crash to flee the scene.
If a driver is involved in a crash, they should follow the steps below:
- Assist the injured– Check for injured people and call 911.
- Be visible– Make sure that the scene is visible to approaching drivers. If possible, move vehicles out of the path of traffic, and use hazard flashers, flares, and reflective triangles. Find a safe place to remain until emergency services arrive, if needed.
- Communicate– Call the police and file a report. If the police do not come to the scene, you can file a report by visiting a local police department or your automobile insurance agency.
B.R.A.K.E.S Driver Training
Teen fatalities behind the wheel happen every day and much too often. No one understands this reality more than Doug Herbert, who lost both of his sons – 17 year-old James and 12 year-old Jon, to a car crash. His grief led to his resolve to create a driving program, B.R.A.K.E.S (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe), to prevent other families from experiencing similar heart break by teaching young drivers more conscientious and confident skills behind the wheel.
B.R.A.K.E.S. is a Guidestar Gold-rated 501(c)(3) charity and AAA Approved Driving School that offers students hands-on experience in the dangerous situations they may find themselves in on the road.
Some of the real-life simulations include using a slalom curriculum to teach elevated steering control, a Wheel Drop-Off Recovery Exercise to teach retaining control when the vehicle drops a wheel off a highway shoulder, a Panic Stop Exercise to give teens safer and more controlled responses when braking in an emergency, and an exercise that teaches the skills necessary to maintain or regain control in wet or icy road conditions.
“B.R.A.K.E.S. has trained more than 22,000 teens all across the country in the last eight years. Together with their parents – who are required to attend with their teen and frequently learn as much or more than the kids – that’s more than 50,000 safer drivers on the road because of B.R.A.K.E.S. I think that’s a fitting tribute to my sons, Jon and James, whose lives continue to make a difference through the charity,” said Founder Doug Herbert. “And we’re not slowing down. North Carolina continues to be our home base and one of our busiest locations with monthly schools at zMax Dragway in Concord as well as regular events at the State Trooper training facility in Raleigh, and we added a school Charleston, South Carolina, for the first time this year, with the help of the Rabon Family, who lost their son Tripp in a car crash about a year ago.”
B.R.A.K.E.S dedication to preventing injuries and saving lives by training and educating teenage drivers about the importance of safe and responsible driving means taking driver’s education beyond the conventional method. It is a free, hands-on, advanced driver training program taught by professional instructors who train the FBI, secret service, state troopers, rave for a living and/or perform stunts in movies.
Each weekend event includes four identical sessions to allow parents and teens to pick one that will fit into their busy schedules, and each session includes four hours of training, starting with a short, 45-minute classroom presentation followed by lots of driving time in a fleet of new cars provided by Kia.
For more information, including nationwide locations and dates for upcoming events, and to register for a school, please visit: www.putonthebrakes.org. (Please note: Registration requires a deposit of $99 to secure a seat, but it’s fully refundable upon arrival at the school.)
100 Deadliest Days Kicks Off
Memorial Day (May 28) begins the “100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers, the period when teen crash deaths historically climb. During this time, the average number of deaths from car crashes involving teen drivers, ages 16-19, increases by 16 percent per day compared to other days of the year.
There were 53,392 crashes involving teens (ages 15-19) in North Carolina in 2017 resulting in 88 fatalities and 12,869 injuries, according to the NCDOT. 21.2% of all teen-related crashes were a direct result of distracted driving, and 18.9% were a result of lane departure.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s latest study, Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age, analyzes crash rates per mile driven for all drivers and found that for every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 years old are:
- 3.9 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash
- 2.6 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash
- 4.5 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a crash
- 3.2 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a fatal crash
Fatal teen crashes are on the rise. The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2015 crash data, the latest data available. To reverse this alarming trend, AAA urges parents to help reduce the number of deadly crashes on the road by getting more involved and talking to their teens about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel.
“Parents are the front line of defense for keeping our roads safer this summer,” said Tiffany Wright, President of AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety. “It all starts with educating teens about safety on the road and modeling good behavior, like staying off the phone and buckling your seat belt.”
Three factors that commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers are:
- Distraction: Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smart phone.
- Not Buckling Up: In 2015, the latest data available, 60 percent of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash.
- Speeding: Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. A recent AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive.
To keep roads safer this summer, AAA encourages parents to:
- Have conversations with their teens early and often about distraction and speeding.
- Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving.
- Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
There are many schools designed to educate teens on more in-depth driving techniques. One that is also highlighted in this newsletter is B.R.A.K.E.S, a AAA Approved Driving School and a charity organization that offers free, hands-on advanced driver training for teens that includes rigorous training through real-life obstacles such as wet/icy road conditions or adjusting the wheel if the tire runs off the highway.
Gas Prices Are Going Up and American Car-Buyers are Going Electric
American appetite for electric vehicles is heating up. A new AAA survey shows that 20 percent or 50 million Americans will likely go electric for their next vehicle purchase, up from 15 percent in 2017. With lower-than-average ownership costs, increased driving ranges and the latest advanced safety features, AAA sees a strong future for electric vehicles. To help “green” car shoppers make an informed choice, AAA conducts independent, rigorous test-track evaluations of plug-in hybrids, hybrid and fuel-efficient, gas-powered vehicles.
In a survey conducted through social media, AAA Carolinas found that 35% of Carolinians are leaning electric for their next car – with 65% saying they’re not for them.
Perhaps fueling American’s desire for electric vehicles, AAA’s survey found that “range anxiety” is beginning to ease. Among those unsure or unwilling to choose an electric vehicle for their next car, 63 percent (down 9 percent from 2017) cited not enough places to chargeas a detractor while 58 percent (down 15 percent from 2017) expressed concern over running out of charge while driving. Not surprisingly, range anxiety is less of a concern for millennials (48 percent) than Generation X or Baby Boomers (64 percent and 66 percent, respectively).
While range is important to most (87 percent) electric and hybrid vehicle shoppers, it is not the only consideration. Reliability is king with nine-in-ten (92 percent) of those likely to by an electric or hybrid vehicle stating it is important when evaluating which car to buy. Electric and hybrid car shoppers are also prioritizing crash ratings (77 percent), cost (71 percent), acceleration and handling (69 percent) and advanced safety technology such as automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance (60 percent). Fewer drivers are concerned with style, color, or design of the vehicle (34 percent) or brand of the vehicle (33 percent). Full survey results available here.
To help drivers looking to making the switch or find their next green vehicle, Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center conducts extensive and thorough testing of high fuel efficiency, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles each year, and assigns ratings based on criteria important to buyers such as ride quality, safety and performance.
In 2018, the following vehicles earned AAA’s Top Green Vehicle award:
Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews and an in-depth analysis of the green vehicle industry can be found at AAA.com/greencar.
Although Americans may be more eager to buy an electric vehicle, having the right infrastructure will be critical to its widespread adoption. In 2018, the availability of charging stations had grown to more than 16,000 in the United States and, although anxiety over range has reduced, AAA’s survey found consumer expectation for charging time while on the road may not align with reality. Seven-in-ten (68 percent) Americans feel that while out driving, a charging time of no more than 30 minutes is a reasonable amount of time to wait.