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With six motorcycle deaths in 2018, Virginia Beach reaches last year’s total

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Three crashes. Four deaths.

Last week was a deadly one for motorcyclists in the Resort City, so much so that according to police, the city has already reached 2017's total in motorcycle fatalities: six.

It started July 10 with a crash on Virginia Beach Boulevard and Wexford Drive that left a 36-year-old woman dead. On July 12, police say two people died when a motorcycle that was racing another car collided with a moped on Dam Neck Road. The next day, police say a 26-year-old motorcyclist died in a crash on the Lesner Bridge.

Hampton and Chesapeake also saw fatal motorcycle crashes this month.

"I think it`s really sad for the families and for the loss," said Katherine Wichlan of Virginia Beach, who's been riding motorcycles for the better part of two decades. "This last week, you should really look at all the people who have died and sit back and think is it really worth me trying to show off."

Wichlan says it's important for riders to have experience before hitting high speeds, something she says she learned the hard way in the past when she crashed while trying to turn.

She also stresses the importance of always wearing full protective gear including a helmet.

AAA Tidewater says it's not unusual for a large amount of fatal motorcycle crashes to occur in the summer months; they accounted for around 40 percent of total fatalities in 2016 and 2017.

"2017 was the highest number of motorcycle fatalities that we had seen in Virginia in a very long time. We`re on track right now to meet that same number," said Georjeane Blumling with AAA Tidewater. "I think it`s important for motorcyclists to actually get some experience especially before driving at higher speeds."

AAA wants to remind motorcyclists that speed and alcohol can be dangerous when mixed with riding and also warns other drivers to avoid road rage and be considerate on the road:

  • Be extra cautious on weekends, when more motorcyclists take to the road.
  • Provide motorcyclists adequate room to maneuver. Follow at least five to six seconds behind them.
  • Allow extra maneuvering room in areas with potholes, pavement transitions and railroad crossings. Motorcyclists may need to slow down, stop or adjust their lane position.
  • Never try to share a lane with a motorcycle. Motorcycles have the same right to lanes as any other vehicle.
  • If a motorcycle is nearby, check your mirrors carefully before changing lanes. Motorcycles may be in your blind spots or difficult to see because of their smaller size.

There is some good news: Virginia Beach Police say so far this year they've investigated 53 motorcycle-involved crashes, which is down from 74 during the same period in 2017.