Motorcycle safety on Va. roads also requires motorist support

Posted at 1:10 PM, Apr 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-27 13:11:08-04

RICHMOND, Va. – Riding season is cranking up in Virginia as warmer weather opens throttle on the forecast. But with the summer months approaching, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reminded both motorcyclists and motorists to travel with caution.

Twenty-five motorcyclists have died so far this year on Virginia roadways. Statistically, the deadliest months of the year for motorcyclists in Virginia are from April to August.

Not to cast a shadow on the freedom and fun of the open road, but DMV noted that more than half of last year’s motorcyclist fatalities (39 of 72) occurred during those months.

The call for more safety isn’t geared just toward motorcyclists. Approximately half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve automobiles.

In more than half of all crashes involving motorcycles and automobiles, the automobile driver didn’t see the motorcycle until it was too late, according to DMV info.

On any given roadway, both motorcyclists and motorists need to notice, and anticipate, one another’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, DMV pointed out in their safety tips.

DMV also emphasized to never tailgate a motorcycle –or any other vehicle. Drivers traveling over 35-45 mph need to allow at least three seconds following distance.

And the most consistent thing drivers can always do is to check for motorcycles before pulling out, changing lanes, turning, backing up or proceeding through an intersection.

And put down the cell phones.

“Distracted driving is probably the biggest danger any of us face on the roadways today, and it’s a problem we hear about from all facets of the riding community,” said Alex Pagliuca, Marking Director at Moto and Scoot Richmond. “Put down your phones or anything else when you’re driving. It does kill people, in an absolutely literal sense.”

And motorcyclists, DMV has some tips for you.

Repeat the first one like a mantra: All the gear, all the time (ATGATT). A helmet is required by law, but DMV said to consider a full-face helmet, along with other protective clothing such as gloves, goggles and a riding jacket.

“It’s also up to us, as riders to make sure we have the right gear to keep us safe in the event of an incident,” Pagliuca said. “Quality riding gear that fits correctly can prevent a lot of injuries.”

Pagliuca, a veteran rider, pointed out that he actually wears more gear now, than when he started riding 10 years ago.

Riders taking to the roads on Southern summer days may think it’s too hot to wear a jacket.

Pagliuca responded that they haven’t looked at the right jackets then and said: “…the difference in discomfort between having a really well vented jacket on and having the asphalt peel off skin and muscle is significant.”

DMV also called for vigilance, both day and night. Their data indicated that more than half of motorcyclist fatalities in 2016 occurred between 3 and 9 p.m.

Just because the motorcycle feels like lightning doesn’t mean you need to bring the storm. Speeding and failure to maintain control of the motorcycle contribute to a high percentage of motorcyclist deaths.

And don’t be a literal buzz kill. Forty-two percent of all single vehicle motorcycle fatalities in 2015 involved blood alcohol content above the legal limit.

DMV suggested that riders check out their Virginia Rider Training Program, no matter what their skill level. Classes are taught by certified motorcycle and safety instructors and are offered throughout the state.

And another thing motorcyclists and cagers can all agree on – keep the shiny side up, the rubber side down.

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