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Earlier this month, Virginia (VA) launched a new program to help ensure that motorcyclists who are involved in an accident will receive proper medical treatment. The program is a collaborative effort between the Richmond Ambulance Authority, Bon Secours Virginia Health System and Motorcycle Virginia, Inc. Through the program, riders will be offered identification cards that can be placed inside a rider’s helmet. In addition, the rider will also be provided with a sticker to place on the outer shell of the helmet indicating that the biker has the rider alert card. The card itself is aimed at ensuring that first responders have some basic information, such as emergency contacts and important medical information, when arriving on an accident scene.

While this new program will hopefully assist first responders in providing treatment at the scene of an accident, it is also a reminder of what motorcyclists can do to prevent accidents from happening in the first place, and some basic principles of motorcycle safety:

  • Never ride without a certified motorcycle helmet. A certified helmet will carry a “DOT” label on it, which ensures that the helmet meets Federal standards.
  • Always wear appropriate eye protection. Eye protection — even for motorcycles that have windshields — prevents your vision from being affected by bugs, dirt, rocks, and even the wind.
  • Wear appropriate shoes, gloves, and clothing. Your clothing should be durable, with long sleeves and pants, to protect the body in the event of an accident. Durable gloves ensure a firm grip on controls, and proper footwear, such as leather boots, help protect the lower part of the leg.
  • Drive defensively. This is even more important for motorcyclists than for cars, since motorcycles are less visible to other vehicles on the road.
  • Be particularly alert at intersections. Nearly 50% of motorcycle-vehicle collisions occur at intersections.
  • Always check rearview mirrors before changing lanes or stopping.
  • Watch the road surface and traffic ahead to anticipate problems and hazards. Minor irritations — such as potholes, oil slicks, puddles, and debris — can be particularly troublesome for motorcyclists.
  • Assume that you are invisible to other motorists and take steps to make sure that other vehicles can see you. Wear brightly colored clothing, use headlights day and night, and avoid driving in a vehicle’s blindspot.

The bottom line of motorcycle safety is that riding a motorcycle presents unique challenges that drivers of other automobiles do not confront. Less stability, less structural protection, and greater susceptibility to road hazards all present safety issues that motorcyclists need to be aware of and address when riding.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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