Twenty-six motorcyclists have died on Virginia roadways so far this year, and as the summer season nears, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) urges motorcyclists – and motorists – to travel with caution.
Overall, motorcyclist fatalities decreased 18 percent last year (88) in Virginia compared to 2017 (107). However, in 2017, Virginia recorded the highest number of motorcyclist fatalities in a decade. While the number of deaths decreased in 2018, they are still higher than the number of fatalities reported in the four years prior to 2017.
Over the past five years, May through August have proven to be a deadly span of months for motorcyclists in Virginia. About half of the motorcyclist fatalities in that time frame occurred during those four months.
“Traveling by motorcycle is [one]way to see the Commonwealth, but only if you travel with safety at the forefront of your mind,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Do everything you can to protect yourself by wearing all appropriate safety gear, staying alert, following posted speed limits, and brushing up on your skills by participating in the Virginia Rider Training Program.”
The Virginia Rider Training Program offers motorcycle classes for both beginning and experienced riders. Classes are taught by certified motorcycle and safety instructors and are offered throughout the state.
“Motorists also need to do their part,” Commissioner Holcomb continued. “Motorcycles are much smaller than automobiles and can be harder to see. It’s important to keep a lookout for motorcyclists on the roadways and to give them plenty of space to operate safely.”
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. A majority of this year’s motorcyclist fatalities occurred between noon and 6 p.m.
- Travel at a safe speed. Always obey the posted speed limits and reduce your speed in inclement weather.
- Never operate a motorcycle after drinking alcohol.
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.