RICHMOND – Last year, Virginia recorded the highest number of motorcyclist fatalities in a decade, and, as the weather warms again, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) urges motorcyclists and motorists to do their part to prevent deaths this year.
One-hundred-and-seven motorcyclists were killed in 2017 on Virginia roadways, compared to 72 in 2016 – a nearly 50-percent increase. Ninety motorcyclist fatalities were reported in 2011, the previous decade high.
“We are working every day to reduce traffic crashes and save lives on Virginia roadways,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “DMV, VDOT, Public Safety and Community Partners are urging motorcyclists and motorists to give their full attention to driving and following the rules of the road.”
“A large number of motorcycle crashes occur when the motorcyclist is traveling too fast and loses control of his bike. Following a safe speed is a simple solution for these types of crashes,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Other crashes can occur when a person driving a car, for example, doesn’t see the motorcyclist because of inattention or a blind spot. We encourage motorists to be aware of motorcyclists sharing the road and to make sure you know where they are in traffic before changing lanes.”
Motorcyclists can take advantage of the Virginia Rider Training Program , which offers statewide motorcycle classes for both beginning and experienced riders.
Motorcycle Safety Tips
- Always wear safety equipment. Wear helmets and other protective clothing such as gloves, goggles and a riding jacket. Motorcyclists and their passengers must wear helmets in Virginia. A rider without a helmet is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury than a rider wearing a helmet.
- Remain alert day and night. Keep an eye on your surroundings at all times. Forty-four percent of motorcyclist fatalities in 2017 occurred between noon and 6 p.m.
- Travel at a safe speed. Always obey posted speed limits and reduce speed in inclement weather. Speeding and failure to maintain control of the motorcycle contribute to a high percentage of motorcyclists’ deaths.
- Never operate a motorcycle after consuming alcohol: Forty percent of all single-vehicle motorcycle fatalities in 2017 involved a motorcyclist with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit.
Tips for Other Motorists
- Look for motorcyclists. In more than half of all crashes involving motorcycles and automobiles, the automobile driver didn’t see the motorcycle until it was too late.
- Check your blind spots. Always check for motorcycles before you pull out, change lanes, turn, back up or proceed through an intersection.
- Anticipate the motorcyclist’s movements. A slight change or debris on the road surface can be a major obstacle for motorcyclists so expect them to make sudden moves within their lane. Never tailgate a motorcycle or any other vehicle.