May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and The Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program (GMSP) reminds all motorists to comply with rider laws and to “Share the Road.” In 2020, there were 192 motorcycle fatalities and 834 motorcycle serious injuries in Georgia, a 13% and 18% increase from the previous year. Motorcycle Safety Month and the Share the Road campaign are a call to action to reduce these numbers.
The key components of motorcycle safety are motorist awareness of motorcycles, motorcycle rider education, helmet use, and compliance with traffic laws. DDS Commissioner Spencer R. Moore emphasizes the importance of these factors for safer roads in Georgia. “Mutual responsibility is the safety message we are sharing with all road users to prevent motorcycle crashes,” said Commissioner Moore. “By following 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 and the District of Columbia that has a universal helmet law requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets. Data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated helmets to be 37% more effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists. Helmets must be DOT compliant, and the GMSP recommends a full-face helmet for the most protection.
In addition to wearing a helmet, motorcyclists are required by Georgia law to be properly licensed to operate their vehicle without restrictions. Motorcycle education courses provide the ideal pathway to obtaining a Class M license endorsement. “The Basic RiderCourse is essential to prepare new riders to be road ready,” explains GMSP program manager Holly Hegyesi. She also encourages all motorcyclists, regardless of experience level, to take rider education courses, “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.”
Riding safely is not the sole responsibility of motorcyclists, other motorists must be aware of motorcycle behaviors and be alert for motorcycles on the road. Motorcycles are smaller and can be less visible to passenger vehicles during bad weather and heavy traffic. It is vital that drivers exercise awareness and drive undistracted, obeying Georgia’s hands-free laws. The GMSP’s “Share the Road” campaign emphasizes this shared responsibility to protect motorcyclists and reduce rider fatalities.