May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, recent crashes prove why it’s important

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The month of May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness month.

Within less than a week, there have been two fatal motorcycle accidents in Hampton Roads.

In the past month, there were reports of at least four other accidents, one fatal.

Another crash involved the pastor of the New Testament Church in Portsmouth, Bishop Jerome Williams.

He says his bike was hit from behind just a half hour after he purchased a new bike and weeks after the church's "Blessing of the Bikes" event.

"Some may say you did the blessing of the bikes but you still got hurt, the blessing is I'm still able to talk about it," he says.

Bishop Williams says he has three broken bones in his foot, an arm injury that will likely require surgery, and his skin torn up on his knees and hip.

He hopes his accident sends a message to drivers to be aware, stay focused, and stay off the phone.

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, statistically, April through August are the deadliest months of the year for motorcyclists in Virginia.

More than half of last year’s motorcyclist fatalities (39 of 72) occurred in those months.

As of April 27, 25 motorcyclists have died so far this year on Virginia roadways.

The DMV offers the following tips for motorcycles:

  • Always wear safety equipment. Wear helmets and other protective clothing such as gloves, goggles and a riding jacket. Motorcyclists and their passengers must wear helmets in Virginia. A rider without a helmet is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury than a rider wearing a helmet.
  • Remain alert day and night. Keep an eye on your surroundings at all times. More than half of motorcyclist fatalities in 2016 occurred between 3 and 9 p.m.
  • Travel at a safe speed. Always obey the posted speed limits and reduce your speed in inclement weather. Speeding and failure to maintain control of the motorcycle contribute to a high percentage of motorcyclists’ deaths.
  • Never operate a motorcycle after consuming alcohol: Forty-two percent of all single-vehicle motorcycle fatalities in 2015 involved a motorcyclist with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit.

The DMV offers the following tips for other motorists:

  • Look for motorcyclists. In more than half of all crashes involving motorcycles and automobiles, the automobile driver didn’t see the motorcycle until it was too late.
  • Check your blind spots. Always check for motorcycles before you pull out, change lanes, turn, back up or proceed through an intersection.
  • Anticipate the motorcyclist’s movements. A slight change or debris on the road surface can be a major obstacle for motorcyclists so expect them to make sudden moves within their lane. Never tailgate a motorcycle or any other vehicle.