Deaths of unhelmeted Va. motorcyclists up sharply in 2019

For evidence of a motorcycle helmet’s importance, look no further than recent fatalities in Virginia: Seven unhelmeted motorcyclists have died in the commonwealth so far in 2019.

It’s a sharp increase compared with years past: Only eight motorcyclists who weren’t wearing protective gear have died over the past four years. (One died in 2017; four died in 2016; and three died in 2015.)

For that reason, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is reminding motorcycle riders that helmets are the most important safety equipment that they can wear.

“Our goal is to always see traffic fatalities decreasing from year to year, so when the trend is upward, we need to redouble our efforts,” said Richard Holcomb, commissioner of the department.

According to their statistics, helmets are 29% effective in preventing motorcycle-related deaths and 67% percent effective in preventing brain damage. Riders without helmets are 40% more likely to die than helmeted riders.

Overall motorcycle deaths are up this year in the commonwealth, too. As of Nov. 15, there had been 87 deaths, compared with 83 during the same time period in 2018.

In Virginia, motorcyclists and passengers are required by law to wear helmets.

Holcomb also asks drivers to pay closer attention for motorcycles, suggesting that they need to check twice in order to spot the smaller vehicles. Motorcycle riders who wish to brush up on their technique and skills should check out the Virginia Rider Training Program.

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