October 31, 2011

A Richmond police communications officer was fatally injured in a motorcycle crash at the beginning of October when he collided with a school bus while riding his motorcycle just west of Jefferson Davis Highway. Another motorcyclist was sent to the hospital with critical injuries after colliding with an SUV in Chesterfield County about a week ago. The cyclist later died from his injuries has well.

To top it all off, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that almost half of all fatal accidents on Halloween night in 2009 involved a motorcycle driver with a blood-alcohol-concentration above 0.08. To say that October is a dangerous month for Virginia motorcycle accidents may be an understatement. October has proven to be even worse: a deadly month for motorcyclists in Virginia and throughout the country.

How Can Richmond Motorcyclists Better Protect Themselves?

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles requires all cyclists on Virginia roadways to first obtain a motorcycle license or a Class M designation on your Virginia driver’s license. Virginia also requires that cyclists and their passengers wear a helmet that either complies with or exceeds the standards set forth by the federal Department of Transportation, the Snell Memorial Foundation or the American National Standards Institute, Inc.

In addition to helmets, motorcyclists are encouraged to wear protective eyewear such as a helmet with a face shield or protective goggles, long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect arms and legs from scrapes and abrasions, non-slip gloves that allow for a firm grip on the handlebars and appropriate footwear that covers the ankles. Leather boots are highly recommended.

While it’s every driver’s responsibility to keep an eye out for others on the road and to follow traffic rules to protect each other’s safety, motorcyclists must be aware that they often go unseen by others on the road. Whether it’s because drivers are not looking for their smaller motor vehicles or whether the motorcyclist is not taking steps to drive in his or her lane so as to be visible to other drivers, lane positioning is very important for motorcycle safety. If you’re riding a motorcycle, make sure to give yourself enough space to avoid traffic hazards as well as to brake appropriately in emergency situations.

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