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Pay attention to motorcycle safety

The Virginia State Police is raising the alarm on the number of motorcyclists that have died on Virginia’s highways lately.

In the last seven weeks, 21 motorcyclists have been killed in accidents in Virginia. Of those, nine have been single-vehicle crashes. That’s a tragedy that has affected hundreds of people mourning their family members and friends.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2019, per vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists were about 29 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and were four times more likely to be injured.

Operating a motorcycle requires not only coordination and good judgment, just like operating any motor vehicle, but also requires balance and other skills unique to motorcycles. It also subjects motorcyclists to dangers from other drivers, not all of whom are always acting responsibly or paying the maximum amount of attention that they possibly can.

Those who ride can participate in upcoming “Ride 2 Save Lives” motorcycle safety courses, which are free and open to any participant with a valid operator’s license with a Class M endorsement. Operators must also have appropriate riding attire, DOT-approved helmet and eye protection, and street-legal motorcycles.

The courses in the Hampton Roads area are coming up at Waters Edge Church in Yorktown on July 24 and Sept. 25 and at ADS Inc. in Virginia Beach on Aug. 21 and Oct. 23. Advance registration is required; visit virginiastatepolice.eventbrite.com to register.
For those who aren’t motorcyclists, bear the following tips in mind:

  • Because of its narrow profile, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots or masked by roadside objects. Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections.
  • A motorcycle may look farther away than it is, and it may be difficult to judge its speed. If a motorcycle is approaching, wait for it to pass. The few extra seconds of your time is far better than the alternative.
  • Motorcyclists may slow down by downshifting or rolling off the throttle, so the brake light is not activated. Expect motorcycles to slow down without visual warning.
  • Turn signals on a motorcycle are not always self-canceling, so some motorcyclists may forget to turn them off. Make sure a motorcycle’s signal is for real before you act based on it.
  • Use your own turn signal.
  • If a motorcyclist is surrounded on three sides by other vehicles, don’t become the fourth.