All Drivers Urged to Share the Road During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

All motorists also have a responsibility to safely share the road, not just during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, but year-round

RICHMOND, VA (Tuesday, May 1, 2012) – Virginia Secretary of Public Safety, AAA Mid-Atlantic, the Virginia State Police and the Richmond Ambulance Authority are joining numerous federal, state and local highway safety organizations to remind motorists to be extra alert for motorcyclists and to safely share the road during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Motorcycle registrations soared 104 percent in Virginia from 2001 to 2010, and as gas prices are expected to stay high throughout spring and with the arrival of warmer weather in summer, the number of motorcyclists on the road will likely continue to increase. Therefore, it is important for both motorists and motorcyclists to be aware of one another and exercise caution to keep all drivers safe.

“Virginia is honored to be a popular traveling and touring destination for motorcycle enthusiasts,” said Secretary of Public Safety Marla G. Decker. “The Commonwealth’s recognition of the month of May as ‘Virginia Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month’ helps bring attention to the dire need for all drivers and riders to responsibly share the road with one another. Safe driving practices by all motorists are paramount to keeping our highways and scenic byways free of fatalities and injuries.”

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, motorcycle crashes increased by 15 percent in 2011 compared to 2010 in the Commonwealth, with 90 motorcycle riders killed and 2,036 injured. Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than passenger vehicle drivers in the event of a crash. Research shows that approximately 80 percent of motorcycle crashes injure or kill a motorcycle rider, while only 20 percent of passenger car crashes injure or kill a driver or passenger.

“Motorcycle safety is the responsibility of everyone, from motorists and motorcyclists to first responders. Motorcyclists must be properly trained, follow traffic laws and wear visible clothing. Motorists need to remain alert at all times and give motorcyclists plenty of room. First-responders need access to vital, life-saving information. That’s why the Richmond Ambulance Authority spearheaded the Rider Alert program,” said Rob Lawrence, chief operating officer of Richmond Ambulance Authority.

Rider Alert was launched in April 2011 to help reduce motorcycle fatalities by providing first responders with medical information needed to help injured cyclists. Through identification data cards placed inside helmets, first responders have access to vital, life-saving information on injured riders involved in accidents, so they can provide faster and more accurate medical assistance, thus saving more lives.

“We are very pleased with Rider Alert’s progress to educate drivers and riders on motorcycle safety. In just over a year, we have distributed 195,000 rider cards to motorcyclists in Virginia, New York and a number of other states. A version of Rider Alert launched in Sweden in March and, this month, Rider Alert Programs are launching in Arizona, Kentucky and Texas. The rapid success of Rider Alert is a direct result of the strong partnerships we have formed locally, statewide, nationally and abroad, and we appreciate the committed efforts of all those involved,” added Lawrence.

“Rider Alert is proving to be a valued partner to Bon Secours and other health care providers across the Commonwealth,” said Toni Ardabell, CEO Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital. “With the critical information that the data cards are providing to first-responders, our emergency departments and medical professionals are better prepared to provide on-time care and treatment to injured cyclists. Together, we are saving lives and improving the quality of care.”

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