Constant vigilance

Published 5:14 pm Monday, April 2, 2018

Last Thursday, motorists in Washington felt the second-hand impact of a fatal motorcycle accident. As officers from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the Washington Police Department scoured the scene, marking pavement and taking measurements, traffic was diverted around a one-block radius of the intersection of Market and Fifth streets for the better part of the afternoon.

While this may have created a minor inconvenience for drivers, this inconvenience is inconsequential next to the loss of life that occurred as a result of the accident. For one driver, this event may be life changing. For another, it was life ending, leaving behind family, friends and loved ones to mourn a senseless loss.

Although the Highway Patrol has not yet released final details of the collision, one thing is certain. As the weather warms, Beaufort County residents will undoubtedly see an increase in motorcycle and bicycle traffic on local roadways. This will be especially true on the weekend of April 20-22, as thousands of cyclists descend on Washington and the surrounding area for the 2018 Cycle NC Coastal Ride.

According to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 176 motorcyclists were killed in North Carolina in 2016, and a total of 5,286 lost their lives nationwide during the same year. Approximately 88,000 bikers were injured in the U.S. in 2015, according to the most recent data available.

Preventing a tragedy such as the one that occurred Thursday demands constant vigilance from all who utilize Beaufort County’s roadways. Whether riding on two wheels or four, every motorist must remain aware of their surroundings at all times.

For those behind the wheel, be especially aware of bicycles and motorcycles, as the size and visibility of these vehicles present unique challenges. For those on bikes, remember that other drivers aren’t always looking out for you.

Add to this mix increased foot traffic in areas such as downtown Washington, and the need to pay attention is more pressing than ever. Avoid distractions such as cellphones and radios. Check your blind spots and look twice before changing lanes. Share the road and be courteous of fellow travelers. By doing these things, you may just save a life.