RALEIGH — Started by the American Motorcyclist Association in the early 1980s, May has become the month in which motorcycle enthusiasts seek to educate drivers to be aware of motorcycles and to call attention to safety issues affecting motorcycle riding. State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, an avid motorcyclist, is asking North Carolinians to look out for motorcycles as people hit the roads for vacations this summer.
“When a car and a motorcycle come into contact it rarely turns out well for the motorcycle,” said Treasurer Folwell. “Motorists need to pay special attention for motorcycles when changing lanes, following behind a bike and always when making left turns across traffic. Motorcycle awareness isn’t about the bike itself but those that ride, many of whom teach, protect and otherwise serve.”
Motorcyclists are 27 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motorcycle crash. Because of this, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has declared May to be Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in the United States.
There are more than 8.5 million motorcycles registered in the U.S. In North Carolina, there are almost 200,000 motorcycles registered with more than 175,000 licensed drivers.
Treasurer Folwell has been riding motorcycles since a young age. In fact, he was the Grand National Cross-Country national champion in 2013 as well as a two-time North Carolina state champion. He asks North Carolinians to acknowledge motorcycle safety month in honor of two of the state’s most enthusiastic motorcyclists, Thomas James “Doc Ski” Wasileski and Allen “Big Al” Champion.
Doc Ski was a decorated Green Beret and Ranger serving in the U.S. Army from 1965-1985. He was an avid motorcycle rider who was a member of the Original Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club USA, Motorcycle Riders Foundation and president of the Concerned Biker Association.
Big Al was one of the founders of the North Carolina Hare Scramble Association, one of North Carolina’s premier off-road motorcycle racing series. In 2022, there are 14 scheduled races across the state that are often the top driver of sales and tax revenue in the counties that hold the events.
“As we think of ‘Big Al’, I join Fun Cycles owner Willie Bradshaw in honor and memory of him on the one-year anniversary of his death,” said Treasurer Folwell. “We miss him and his love of motorcycle racing.”
Treasurer Folwell noted that as we begin to travel more, and the weather gets warmer, motorcycle safety is key. Both motorcyclists and automobile drivers need to practice good safety habits and be considerate of each other, he added.