Virginia Motorcycle Season, 2009: Tips to Keep Everyone Safe

As the weather heats up, motorcycle enthusiasts excitedly pull on their gear, warm up their bikes, and head out to hit the open road. Regardless of age or experience driving there are thousands of motorcycle accidents occurring on Virginia roads every year. In fact, according to the Virginia DMV Crash Facts, there were 2,601 motorcycle accidents in 2007 alone. Unfortunately, 13% of these wrecks were fatal.

In its application for 402 federal grant funding, the Virginia DMV’s “Virginia’s Highway Safety Plan” responded to these accidents and fatalities by pledging to beef up law enforcement, training and education on motorcycle safety. Indeed, one key piece of legislation, Virginia’s motorcycle helmet laws, went up for repeal in 2007 before the General Assembly and was defeated. The DMV was successful in implementing a law that requires motorcycle license applicants to take a motorcycle riding safety training course if they fail the road test twice. The DMV vowed that they would be diligent in enforcing laws and creating programs for motorcycle driver safety in an effort to lower accident and fatality rates.

The majority of motorcycle accidents happen when their drivers are speeding, following too closely, or committing other traffic violations. Motorcyclists are cautioned to wear reflective clothing, drive extra defensively, signal before changing lanes, and never weave in and out of traffic. Motorcycles posses extra maneuvering capabilities and can reach faster speeds than passenger vehicles – two factors that careless riders abuse when traveling within traffic and alongside other vehicles. However, 40% of motorcycle accidents in 2007 occurred through no fault of the motorcyclist.

Virginia drivers need to be especially cautious during the warmer months as more motorcyclists take to the roads; many of them choosing to travel in groups. Some things to remember:

Because of their smaller size, motorcycles are often harder to spot and the distance between your vehicle and the motorcycle may be harder to judge and drivers often miscalculate how fast a motorcycle is traveling for the same reason.

Many motorcyclists slow their vehicle by downshifting or simply letting off the throttle – these actions do not trigger a brake light and one may be caught completely unaware by the motorcycle’s slowing speed.

Motorcycles can easily be hidden by a car’s blind spots or even covered by nearby objects like trees, bushes, or bridges.
Keep in mind that motorcyclists continually change their positions within driving lanes in an effort to avoid road debris or decrease wind resistance.

Decreasing your vehicle’s following distance combined with a heightened sense of awareness will keep you and motorcyclists safer as we all travel the roads this summer.

Motorcycle accidents are particularly dangerous due to the obvious smaller size of the motorcycle compared with other vehicles on the road, and the decreased level of protection around the motorcyclist. Even the best protective gear, including helmets, may not be enough when disaster strikes.

States across the nation, insurance companies, and motor vehicle commissions all agree that everyone’s first weapon in motorcycle safety is education followed by awareness. As you take to the road during the heavy traffic summer months in your passenger car or your motorcycle, please take the time to share these facts with a driver you love – it may just save someone’s life.

And remember, if you do find yourself involved in a motorcycle accident call the attorneys at the O’Bryan Law Offices, (804) 905-9743. Our personal injury lawyer experience can help you on the road to recovery.

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