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Working to make motorcyclists safe

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month; look twice, save a life

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POSTED: May 8, 2012 2:00 p.m.

Motorcycles and beautiful Georgia weather just seem to go together. Factor in high fuel prices with no apparent ceiling in sight, and motorcycles continue to grow as a popular form of transportation and recreation.

May is Motorcycle Safety Month, so it’s the perfect time to note that as the number of registered motorcycles increases every year, the number of accidents involving motorcycles rises, as well.

What would amount to a fender bender between two motor vehicles is just that — a fender bender. But motorcyclists could suffer severe or life long injuries or even death in a fender bender with motor vehicle.

As the law currently reads, if you cause “serious injury” to the motorcyclist, which could include dismemberment, being paralyzed or even brain damage, you are guilty of a misdemeanor. The fines for a first offense are not less than $250, and fines for second or subsequent offenses range from $500 to $1,000 with imprisonment of 10 days to 12 months.

Let’s read that again: As a first offender having “seriously injured” a motorcyclist — let’s say the rider lost a leg — you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor and fined $250. Seriously! This happens!

Motorcycles have a much smaller profile than a car, truck or SUV and are easy to overlook at intersections and on busy roads and highways. Too many times the response at the scene of an accident is “I didn’t see him.”

But it isn’t always the cars and trucks that are at fault when there are accidents. There are reckless and inexperienced motorcyclists, as well. No one likes to see a motorcycle zig-zagging between vehicles, using the shoulder or the dotted lines as passing lanes — especially other motorcyclists. It’s dangerous behavior and shows a marked disrespect for the law and for fellow motorists.

Currently, there are efforts in courtrooms across the state to increase the penalties relating to accidents and death from right of way violation resulting in collisions between motor vehicles and motorcycles.

ABATE of Georgia Inc., or American Bikers Active Toward Education, is a non-partisan politically active organization lobbying for motorcyclists’ rights. The group’s main focus is keeping motorcycle legislation in its proper perspective because preventing unfair legislation from becoming law is easier than fighting to get the law repealed. ABATE’s goals are rider education and public awareness of motorcycles. ABATE encourages all riders to ride safe.

ABATE of Georgia, District 11 covers eight counties, including Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Effiningham, Evans, Jenkins, Liberty and Screven. Members are riders and enthusiasts from all walks of life who ride all makes of bikes. Meetings are at 3 p.m. the second Sunday of each month at the Redleg Saloon and Grill in Bloomingdale. Meetings are always open to the public, and new friends are always welcome.

For more information about ABATE of Georgia, visit www.abatega.org or www.abatega11.org.

 

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