Highway deaths increase in 2003 - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Highway deaths increase in 2003

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May 17, 2004

Albany- When James Burgess wrecked his motorcycle last month, paramedics were only seconds away.

If not, he could have been part of a growing group. The number of motorcycle riders who die in wrecks is on the rise.

"Motorcycles are inherently dangerous," said Charlie Hough, owner of Flint River Harley-Davidson. "So you need to be prepared to be as safe as you possibly can."

That's why there's safety clothing, like leathers. Wearing helmets, whether they're full coverage or skull caps, is required by Georgia law. Even Hough took the Riders Edge Academy of Motorcycling safety course his store offers.

"It teaches you how to make curves, how to stop properly, how to make emergency stops, how to me more alert than you are when you drive a car. How to be prepared to have an avenue of escape if somebody pulls out in front of you."

The course teaches split second tricks that could save the lives of riders. It's offered once a month. Those that pass the course are state certified safe motorcycle riders.

Bikers aren't the only ones in danger. Deaths in SUV's are also up. But passenger-car deaths were actually down last year. Regardless of the kind of vehicle they were in, still, more than 43,000 people died in highway crashes in 2003. Making it even more important for everyone to ride safely.

Especially bikers, who aren't going to give up what they get from the ride.

"The freedom," Hough said. "The freedom of riding on a motorcycle is a great experience."

Freedom they hope isn't taken away by another careless driver on the road.

posted at 10:22 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com