RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Motorcycle accidents have been on the rise in central North Carolina lately. A motorcyclist died in an accident in Raleigh less than a week ago.
Most recently, four were injured Tuesday after a motorcycle slammed into an SUV on Falls of Neuse Road in Raleigh.
Mario Passfiume has been riding for 40 years. On more than one occasion, Passfiume has thought to himself “this could be it.”
“I thank God,” Passfiume said. “I really do. I thank God that I can ride another day, but there’s been close calls where I was really going too close for the turns, for the corners.”
The closest call came a few years ago.
“The person that hit me was impatient; didn’t wanna wait for the person in front of him to move, and that person skipped his turn and was coming across and I was just cruising,” said Passfiume. “I wasn’t going fast, and when he turned I hit the car, went through the windshield. Concussion, broken ribs, and I broke my leg and I was in the hospital for a while.”
But that hasn’t stopped him from getting back on his bike. There have been three motorcycle crashes in Wake County. Two of those were deadly and the most recent sent four to the hospital.
According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, there were 136 motorcycle fatalities in North Carolina in 2017. In 2018, that number climbed to 165 — a 21-percent increase.
Mark Hendrix manages Tobacco Road Harley Davidson in Raleigh. He’s noticed the increase, too.
“It’s disappointing,” said Hendrix. “I think people get into the motorcycle lifestyle for fun and relaxation. So, you hate to hear when it doesn’t turn out like it’s supposed to.”
Hendrix believes the increase in motorcycle fatalities in North Carolina is due to the increase in population and more people riding motorcycles. He said, over the last year, they’ve seen a 15 percent increase in sales.
“The biggest one is the increase in population, for sure. There are just more cars on the roads,” said Hendrix. “It’s more crowded. I think the cell phone and a number of distractions — whether you’re eating in the car or playing with the radio — a number of distractions that just don’t happen in a motorcycle can happen in a car.”