Two motorcycle riders died in a head-on collision north of Wilmington, North Carolina (NC), on the afternoon of February 18, 2018. In an unusual circumstance, the motorcyclists were on bikes traveling in opposite directions. Most such wrecks involve a car or truck, but this fatal crash illustrates the deadly dangers of operating a motorcycle recklessly.
State Highway Patrol troopers responded to the collision in Pender County at around 3:40 pm. Arriving in the 5400 block of Old Maple Hill Road, officials found one motorcycle rider dead and the other critically injured. The second man died as he was being transferred from an ambulance to a medevac helicopter.
Investigators determined that the motorcycle rider in the eastbound lane of the two-lane rural highway entered a sharp curve at a high rate of speed and crossed the center line. He immediately struck the westbound rider.
Signs posted at frequent intervals along Old Maple Hill Road warn drivers to reduce their speed to 30 mph before entering the curves. While news reports do not contain information on exactly how fast the motorcycle rider who crossed into the path of oncoming traffic was travelling, it is obvious that he was going too fast to stay in his lane. Had he lived, he likely would have been cited for reckless driving, which section 20-140 of the North Carolina General Statutes defines this way:
- Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others shall be guilty of reckless driving.
- Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property shall be guilty of reckless driving.
Any vehicle operated recklessly around a motorcycle rider is almost guaranteed to cause a serious wreck. Proving this, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles recorded 3,763 crashes involving motorcycles during 2016. Those incidents left 151 riders dead and 3,162 riders injured.
My Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I speak nearly every day with motorcycle riders who got hit and hurt by other people who neglected to share the road safely and respectfully. A key to preventing crashes is just acting like you are not the only person on the road. Keeping this truth in mind would, for instance, lead to slowing down around curves simply because someone else may be coming from the other direction.