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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Media Contact: Sunni Brown
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6834

May is National Motorcycle Awareness Month
DMV Urges Motorcyclists and Other Motorists to Use Caution

RICHMOND - Motorcyclist fatalities increased 22 percent last year in Virginia, a tragic statistic the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) hopes caution and education will help reduce.

May is National Motorcycle Awareness Month. DMV urges motorcyclists to always ride with safety in mind and asks other motorists to be on the lookout for motorcyclists sharing the roads.

Seventy-seven motorcycle riders were killed in crashes last year in Virginia - compared to 63 in 2013. More than half of the fatalities occurred during the summer months of June, July and August.

The Virginia Rider Training Program offers motorcycle classes for both beginning and experienced riders. Classes are taught by certified motorcycle safety instructors and are offered at community colleges and other locations throughout the state. To operate a motorcycle in Virginia, you must hold a valid Class M, M2 or M3 designation or a motorcycle driver's license.

"We urge motorcyclists to arm themselves with information before hitting the road this summer," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor's Highway Safety Representative. "Virginia has a great training program for riders of all experience levels that will help you keep your skills sharp and your mind focused while operating a motorcycle. No matter how skilled you are on your bike, there's always more to learn."

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. An unhelmeted rider is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury than a rider wearing a helmet.
  • Be observant. Keep an eye on your surroundings.
  • Follow the rules of the road and drive defensively. DMV's Virginia Highway Safety Office statistics show that the top motorcyclist actions contributing to fatal crashes last year were failure to maintain control and speeding.
  • Never operate a motorcycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ten of the motorcyclists killed last year in Virginia had been drinking.

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.
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