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Motorcycle Accident Deaths in Virginia, New York Highlight Necessity of Safe Riding

The Friday before July 4, 2011, I woke up to news of a fatal five-vehicle accident on I-64 in Norfolk, Virginia (VA), where I live. Police blamed reckless driving and speeding by two motorcyclists for the deadly crash that also involved a pickup truck and two cars and which left at least one bike passenger with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Then, one of the first news headlines that caught my eye when I returned to the office on July 5 was this: "NY Motorcyclist Dies on Ride Protesting Helmet Law." Literally, a man who had lived in upstate New York, flipped over the handlebars of his bike, hit his head on the roadway and died from head injuries that state troopers believe he "would have likely survived if he had been wearing a helmet."

I'm an avid two-wheeler myself, having first fallen in love with motorbikes while riding and renting moprds at the oceanfront as a teenager. I'm also a Virginia and Carolina personal injury attorney who has represented dozens of victims of motorcycle accidents and traumatic brain injuries.

As a rider and lawyer, I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of operating a motorcycle safely and of always wearing properly fitted and certified safety equipment when on a bike as a driver or passenger. Staying at or slightly below the speed limit, cruising to right of left side of your lane so people in cars and trucks can see you, and never racing or weaving in and out traffic are essential safe and defensive driving strategies when operating a motorcycle.

And when it comes to biking safety equipment, no piece of gear is more necessary than a helmet. Study after study has confirmed that wearing head protection significantly reduces spinal cord injuries, disabling TBIs and deaths for motorcyclists involved in all types of traffic accidents.

It's too late for two motorcyclists. Hopefully, other people enjoying the freedom and thrill of motorcycle riding this summer and into the future take the Fourth of July deaths as object lessons in biking safely.


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