SHARING THE ROAD SAFELY WITH MOTORCYCLES IN VIRGINIA

The warmer weather is here and that means that more motorcyclists will be on the road. Unfortunately, motorcyclists are overrepresented in crashes and fatalities every year. 

Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law is joining the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) efforts to raise motorcycle safety awareness. With the increase in motorcycles on the road and May being motorcycle safety awareness month, it’s a great time to remind everyone – both motorists and riders – of safe ways to share the road.  

Motorcycle crashes involving other non-motorcycle motor vehicles continue to account for nearly half of all motorcyclist fatalities in the United States. Motorcyclists are more at risk than those in other vehicles because they lack the external structure and many of the safety features that automobiles have to offer. In 2020, NHTSA reported that there were 5,579 motorcyclists killed in crashes and over 80,000 injured. Motorcyclist deaths accounted for 14% of total highway fatalities that year.  

It is up to all drivers and riders on the road to take extra precautions to help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our roads and highways. All vehicles on the road deserve the same respect no matter what the size.  

Seven Safety Reminders for Motorists:  

  1. Always scan the intersection for motorcycles before entering it. Motorcycles typically have a much quicker acceleration rate, so thinking you could beat a yellow light or a motorcyclist thinking they can beat a yellow light could prove deadly. 
  2. Use more caution when turning, especially when turning left. Most crashes with motorcycles occur when a motorist is turning left and doesn’t see the motorcycle coming. Always take an extra look before turning left and use your turn signals at intersections. Don’t only look for another car. Since motorcycles are not as large as a car or truck, they can be easily overlooked, blend in, or be obstructed by even a small vehicle or other structure.  
  3. Don’t drive distracted. Motorcycles can be harder to see on the roadways and if you are texting, eating, putting on makeup, or otherwise not paying attention to the road in front of you – you may miss seeing a motorcyclist.  
  4. Leave plenty of distance between you and the rider in front of you. Always allow more follow distance — beyond three to four seconds — when behind a motorcycle. This gives you more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. 
  5. Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic. Also listen out as motorcycles have a distinct sound from other motor vehicles.  
  6. Respect motorcycles that are sharing the road just as you would a full-size vehicle. They have the same rights and privileges as any other vehicle. Provide them with the full width of the lane. 
  7. Don’t drive under the influence.  

Eight Safety Reminders for Riders:  

  1. Take a defensive driving course or other safety course. The Virginia State Police offers free courses through their Ride 2 Safe Lives program. The courses are for riders at a novice skill level or above and are offered at various locations.  
     
  2. Wear appropriate and required safety protective gear. In the state of Virginia, motorcyclists and their passengers must wear an approved helmet that meets or exceeds the standards and specifications of the Snell Memorial Foundation, as well as have one of the following: a face shield, safety goggles, or a safety shield on their bike. Check out our blog on motorcycle helmet requirements in Virginia for additional information. Wear goves to protect your hands and long-sleeved jacket made with abrasive-resistant fabrics or leather to help in the event of a crash. Wear riding pants that are also made of abrasive-resistant materials and sturdy boots with a rubber-based composite. Reflective clothing is also highly recommended.  
     
  3. Keep your bike in good working condition. It may be tempting to jump on your bike after it’s been stored during the winter, but it’s a good idea to ensure it’s in proper working condition before you hit the road.   
     
  4. Obey traffic laws!  Don’t speed, weave in and out of traffic, ride down the middle of the lane, ride or pass on the shoulder, or perform stunts such as wheelies.  
     
  5. Pay attention for potential hazards such as potholes, gravel, puddles, grass clippings, leaves, oil slicks, uneven surfaces, and manhole covers.   
     
  6. Always ride with your headlights on to make yourself more visible.  
     
  7. Be aware that you may be in another driver’s blind spot much easier than a larger vehicle would be. Look for cues that a driver in another lane could be anticipating changing lanes or turns. If needed make another driver aware that you are there by giving a short honk of the horn. Avoid riding directly behind the shoulder of another vehicle’s driver for any more time than necessary. It is better to move into a space that is ahead or behind the vehicle where you are not only more visible, but also have room to make an evasive maneuver if needed. 
     
  8. Always think ahead, try to anticipate the moves of other drivers, and be proactive.  

Using extra precautions and avoiding distractions will make our roads safer, no matter what type of vehicle you are driving or riding.  

Most accidents can be prevented but sadly, not everyone takes extra care when sharing the road with a motorcycle. Motorcycles, in general, are more agile and can make directional changes much faster.  In many cases, these collisions occur because drivers of passenger cars and trucks do not take the proper measures to drive safely around motorcycles. Drivers who act negligently may be held liable for injuries suffered by a motorcyclist in a collision.   

Injured in a Motorcycle Crash? 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle crash because of another driver’s negligence, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. Call the team at Huffman & Huffman. We are here to provide advice and guidance to ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries, lost wages, and pain, suffering, and inconvenience. We are the family you can turn to in your time of crisis. Huffman & Huffman will handle everything so that you can focus on your recovery.  

Contact Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, PLLC at (757) 599-6050 to schedule your free case evaluation. We have offices in Newport News and Virginia Beach, and we are happy to come to meet you at your home, workplace, or wherever is most convenient for you. Huffman & Huffman serve clients all over Hampton Roads and Virginia. 

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