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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Monday, July 14, 2008
Media Contact: Mary Ann Rayment
Department of Motor Vehicles
(757) 406-5033 (cell)

Virginia Celebrates National Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day
Training, Helmet Use, Safety Gear Make a Difference

RICHMOND -Virginia joined the nation in the 17th annual Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day on July 16. This event is held nationally to focus attention on the benefits of riding a motorcycle as a means to cut down on fuel costs, improve the environment and help with traffic flow.

With warm weather and higher gas prices, riding a motorcycle is more popular than ever. As the number of motorcycles increase, so do the number of crashes. In 2007, there were 126 motorcycle fatalities, a sharp increase from the 70 fatalities recorded in 2006.

In response, DMV: The Virginia Highway Safety Office developed Motorcycle 411-Info You Can Live With. This program works toward increasing training and knowledge of riding a motorcycle. "When reviewing the data, we realized that some level of inexperience was a contributing factor in many motorcycle crashes," said D.B. Smit, DMV Commissioner and the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "By increasing awareness of training and the importance of safety gear, we hope to prevent more of these tragic deaths."

Other motorists also need to be aware of more motorcycles on the road. Motorcyclists are often hidden in a vehicle's blind spot or missed during a quick look due to their smaller size. Vehicle drivers should always look for motorcycles by checking their mirrors and blind spots thoroughly, and allow more following distance to have enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

While vehicles invading the space of a motorcyclist are sometimes a cause of motorcycle crashes, motorcyclists themselves bear the responsibility of riding safely as well. Riders need to drive within their abilities, obey speed limits, and never mix alcohol and drugs with riding.

To operate a motorcycle in Virginia, the operator must hold a valid Class M designation on their driver's license or hold a driver's license restricted to motorcycles only. Motorcyclists and their passengers are required by Virginia law to wear an approved motorcycle helmet that meets or exceeds the U.S. Department of Transportation specifications.

The Virginia Rider Training Program offers several different training classes including one for new, intermediate and experienced riders. These classes are offered in many places in Virginia throughout the year.

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