Grass clippings can prove deadly for motorcyclists

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GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV/WHSV) — Yard work is something most everyone has to do, or at least have had to do in their life. But motorcyclists across the country are warning people about the consequences that can come from not being careful with your yard.

Grass clippings are often blown or left in the road and can lead to serious injuries or even death for those that ride.

"Just this past weekend, I have a friend that lives in West Virginia. He actually went down and passed away," said Michelle Poovey, who has been riding for years.

"I had a friend, about 5 years ago, go down under grass and he didn't make it," said Bobby Meadows, who also rides motorcycles.

WHSV's sister station, WBTV, met with more than 50 bikers in Gaston County who say when they hit grass in the road, it's the equivalent of hitting black ice.

"Because once you hit it, it is like ice, you can't control it and lose traction," said Poovey.

"You are going to go where the grass wants you to go, whether that is off the road into a tree, into a ditch, oncoming car, it doesn't matter," said David Poovey.

That's the same comparison local motorcyclist Joe Showker told WHSV last fall.

Poovey went down one time because he hit grass in the road.

"It shifted the front end of the bike and slammed the bike over," said Poovey. "It happens in a split second. If you are in a curve, you can't stop."

Julie Head says she also almost crashed when she hit grass.

"When it did, the whole back end of my Slingshot went out. I fish-tailed real hard," said Head. "They need to remember, if you cut your grass, blow it into your yard. It is just safety."

In Virginia, leaving grass clippings in the road isn't just dangerous; it's also against the law.

According to the Code of Virginia 18.2-324, "nor shall any person throw or deposit or cause to be deposited upon any highway any soil, sand, mud, gravel or other substances so as to create a hazard to the traveling public."

Breaking this law is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and, according to Cpl. Wayne Westfall with the Harrisonburg Police Department, it could result in a fine and jail time.

"Maximum penalty for a Class 1 misdemeanor is a $2,500 fine and 12 month incarceration in a jail," Westfall said.

Not every state has a similar law, however. North Carolina's code says you can't place litter or debris in the roadway, but it doesn't cover grass or any "biodegradable agricultural or garden products or supplies, including mulch, tree bark, and wood chips."

Individual cities or towns within states where it isn't a violation of law may have their own statutes against it, however.

For these bikers, riding is not just a form of transportation—it is a way of life.

"It is the feeling that you get, it is like being free," said Michelle Poovey.

"When you are behind these handlebars, nothing else matters, you have no problems, no worries, everything just goes away," said David Poovey.

"Whatever we are on, we are moms, grandmas, grandpas, brothers, sisters, moms, dads," said Head.

While the group hopes to make changes to the law, they also want to raise awareness so people stop blowing grass into the roadways.

"It is just lack of knowledge. I do not think that they think about the seriousness of it and how devastating it can be," said Meadows.

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