PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Motorcycle-related deaths dramatically increased in Virginia last year.
2017 was the deadliest year for motorcycle crashes in the past decade, with nearly a quarter of those crashes in Hampton Roads.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles said 107 motorcyclists died last year on Virginia roadways– compared to 72 in 2016.
After hearing the staggering statistics, local motorcycle riders are working together to make sure this year is different. “We’re hoping those numbers go down, but also we’re working to make those numbers go down,” said Zachary Bon with the Gold Wing Road Riders Association.
Zachary Bon says when his chapter team got wind of the staggering numbers, they knew they had to do something.
“When my chapter team got together we thought: what can we do this year? We said May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, let’s have a motorcycle safety event, then we had to figure out,” he explained.
Bon’s motorcycle club has invited nine other clubs, Chesapeake’s police and fire departments, Chesapeake EMS, and the Virginia State Police to participate in an event Saturday at the Chesapeake Square Mall. The event will include a demonstration for motorcycle safety, a practice crash scene and response scenarios, and first aid procedures in efforts to make sure this year is nothing like last year.
“My thing is distracted driving and riding, because the motorcycles now we have GPS, we have CP radio, we have wireless communication,” he listed.
DMV officials say they’re looking at each crash individually to see if there’s a pattern. They say alcohol is a factor in nearly half of the single motorcycle crashes and nearly half of those killed were in their 50’s.
Statistics also show most of these accidents are happening during the day, between 12 p.m and 6 p.m.
“That could be instead of buying a sports car, I’m going to buy a motorcycle. They’ve never ridden, they’re not experienced riders,” said Bon.
The DMV spokesperson says there’s been 16 people killed in motorcycle crashes so far in Virginia this year, with seven of those happening in Hampton Roads.