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Motorcycle Crashes and Fatalities on the Rise in North Carolina

This part of the state is blessed with beautiful scenery, wide open spaces and excellent weather most of the year. So, it should come as no surprise that Northeastern North Carolina is a popular destination for motorcycle riders. What could be better than a bike ride from Duck to Nags Head on a cool, clear autumn day?

Unfortunately, an increasing number of motorcycle rides are culminating in deadly crashes. In fact, there were 198 motorcycle fatalities on North Carolina roadways last year alone, the most in the last five years, according to new data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Number of motorcycle fatalities in N.C.

  • 2008: 169
  • 2009: 154
  • 2010: 191
  • 2011: 170
  • 2012: 198

Motorcycle accidents are not just a problem among young, inexperienced riders, as is often the perception. Nearly half of the state’s fatalities were among riders between the ages of 40 and 59.

Of the 198 fatalities, 23 riders were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. North Carolina is one of 20 states with universal helmet laws – meaning everyone on a motorcycle, regardless of age, must wear a DOT-approved helmet with chinstraps secured while riding. A helmet can prevent a catastrophic injury.

Across the nation, there were 4,957 fatalities involving motorcycle crashes last year, an increase of 327 (7%) from the previous year. There was an even larger increase in injuries – approximately 93,000 in 2012 compared to 81,000 in 2011.

Alcohol continues to be a major contributing factor, as approximately 42% of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes has blood alcohol levels exceeding the legal limit (.08%).

Weather may play a role in the increase in motorcycle fatalities. The biggest spike in crashes in 2012 occurred during the first three months of the year, a time period which also happens to be the warmest quarter ever recorded in U.S. history. And 46 states, including North Carolina, experienced a warmer than normal spring. One could deduce that warmer weather in winter and spring results in more bikers on the roads, and consequently more accidents, although officials caution that it is too early to make any accurate conclusions based on the new data.

High gas prices may also be a reason for more motorcycles on the road, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

Unfortunately, many motorists are simply not on the lookout for motorcyclists and pull out in front of them, causing collisions and serious injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered injury as a result of a motorcycle crash in Northeastern North Carolina, it is important to seek competent, experienced legal representation.


  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (
  • Governor’s Highway Safety Association (
  • North Carolina Department of Transportation (
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