Editorial – Motorcycle safety should be top of mind

Published 1:41 pm Tuesday, July 4, 2023

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The sad news of a Suffolk man’s death on a motorcycle over the weekend reminds us of the need for extreme caution this time of year as summertime lures more bikers to the streets.

In the case of Saturday’s fatal collision on County Street, the victim struck a vehicle backing out of a driveway, a simple act we all do daily that can quickly turn tragic.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles advises that the key is for both motorcyclists and motorists to look out for each other on the road, rather than assume careful driving by the other.

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“All drivers can help reduce the number of tragedies that occur on our roads, but it’s also important for motorists to understand the additional safety challenges faced by riders, including visibility and protection,” said DMV Commissioner Gerald Lackey. “By raising awareness for motorists, we can work together to better ensure the safety of all motorcyclists on Virginia roadways.” 

In 2022, there were 2,053 motorcycle-related crashes on Virginia roadways, resulting in the deaths of 111 riders and serious injuries to 762 others. That’s an 8.8% increase in motorcycle fatalities from 2021. 

To help keep riders safe, DMV offers a few extra tips for both motorists and riders alike: 

For bikers 

  • Make sure to wear a properly fitted helmet with a DOT safety symbol on the outside back. 
  • Choose riding gear that will increase your visibility in addition to providing protection in the event of a crash. 
  • Check your motorcycle’s equipment before heading out, including tire pressure and tread depth, hand and foot brakes, fluid levels, headlights and signal indicators, and check under the motorcycle for signs of oil or gas leaks. 
  • Obey speed limits, lane markings, traffic lights, and signs. 
  • Ride with the flow of traffic and leave plenty of room between your motorcycle and other vehicles. 

For other motorists: 

  • Be extra cautious when passing a motorcycle. 
  • Always check your blind spots. 
  • Maintain adequate following distance behind motorcycles.