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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Media Contact: Melanie Stokes
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6623

Warm Weather Means More Motorcycles Traveling in Virginia
Motorists Urged to Share the Road

RICHMOND - As the weather gets warmer, more motorcycle riders are hitting the roads in Virginia. Motorists need to share the road with motorcycle riders, while motorcyclists are reminded to follow the rules of the road, and to wear helmets and other protective gear that will increase their visibility.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Virginia Highway Safety Office (VAHSO) is joining with Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine, and federal, state and local highway safety, law enforcement and motorcycle organizations in proclaiming May 2009 as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

In 2008, 79 motorcycle occupants were killed on Virginia's roadways. In the first eight months of 2008, 1,827 motorcycle crashes occurred and 1,678 motorcycle occupants were injured.

"In an effort to reduce these numbers, I want to remind drivers of all vehicles to be extra attentive as motorcycles are one of the smallest vehicles on our roads, often hidden in a vehicle's blind spot," said VAHSO Director John Saunders.

In addition to the three top reasons for motorcycle crashes in 2008 -- failure to maintain control, following too closely and exceeding the speed limit -- other situations may cause motorcycle crashes. The VAHSO reports that approximately half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve automobiles. Many of these crashes are caused by the motorist's failure to see a motorcycle in traffic. Before pulling out into traffic, changing lanes, turning, backing up or proceeding through an intersection, drivers are urged to also look for motorcycles.

"Motorcyclists have responsibilities, too," Saunders said. "Motorcycle riders need to always be aware that they face many more dangers on the road than automobiles do. They should continually seek opportunities to enhance their knowledge and driving ability while operating a motorcycle."

The Virginia Rider Training Program offers motorcycle classes for both beginning and experienced riders. Classes, taught by certified motorcycle safety instructors, are offered at community colleges and other locations throughout the state. For more information about the program, go to www.dmvNOW.com or call 1-800-435-5137.

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