Motorcycle deaths down in Georgia

Motorcycle trophy at the Viper Unit headquarters in Albany. / Jessica Fairley

While motorcycle fatalities rose by nine percent in 2012 nationwide, in Georgia the number of fatalities actually saw a decline.

Information released by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety Association shows Georgia as one of 34 states with rising motorcycle fatalities. This information is based on the first nine months of 2012, but Georgia officials say when you look at the year as a whole, the number of deaths are down.

Georgia had 17 fewer motorcycle fatalities in 2012 than in 2011. The number of death went from 149 to 132.

Harris Blackwood, the Director of Georgia's Governor's office of Highway Safety, says education played a part in the declining rates. Officials have invested in billboard signs and commercials to warn riders, but they say safety comes down to the driver.

Marvin Thomas, the President of the Albany Viper Unit Motorcycle Club, says it's mandatory for their members to train before they hit the road.

"We have classes on road safety, bike maintenance safety to make sure there are no problems with the bikes when we're out there riding and also we have road captains among the formation when we ride to ensure safety," said Marvin Thomas, Albany Viper Unit President.

Although no Viper Unit rider has been injured, Thomas says he's witnessed others suffer after not taking precaution.

"It was a new rider that was unfamiliar with the motorcycle and he hit the front brakes too hard and kind of threw him off of it," said Marvin Thomas.

He says the motto for the Viper Unit is to "think safety first, ride safe and use common sense."

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