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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Tuesday, May 2, 2012
Media Contact: Melanie Stokes
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6623

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
Safety, Proper Training are Encouraged

RICHMOND - Seventeen motorcyclists have died on Virginia's roads so far in 2012, a 42 percent increase compared to the same time period in 2011.

"More motorcyclists are dying on our roadways so we must put even more emphasis on safety and the proper training," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor's Highway Safety Representative.

Last year, 90 motorcyclists were killed and 2,036 were injured in Virginia. Nearly 90 percent of 2011's fatal motorcycle crashes can be attributed to speeding (43 percent) and motorcyclists failing to maintain control of their bikes (44 percent) - and 49 percent of the fatal crashes involved only one vehicle, the motorcycle. Also, alcohol was a factor in 28 percent of last year's fatal motorcycle crashes.

"Motorists are reminded to avoid distractions and to share the roadways with motorcycles," Holcomb said. "These vehicles have a much smaller profile and are therefore much more difficult to see. Since 49 percent of the motorcycle fatal crashes in 2011 were single-vehicle crashes, we remind motorcyclists to obey the posted speed limits, maintain proper control of their motorcycle, and to drive alcohol-free. Driving is a shared responsibility and I encourage all motorists to be considerate."

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 or call 804-497-7100.

If you operate a motorcycle in Virginia, you must hold a valid Class M designation on your driver's license, or have a driver's license restricted to the operation of a motorcycle, by passing the motorcycle knowledge exam and motorcycle road skills test. However, presenting a certificate of completion from the Virginia Rider Training Program exempts the rider from the exam and skills test requirements.

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