Blind Spots, Dangerous Curves, Congestion: Motorcyclists Foes

Fairfax County Police Department
Public Information Office
4100 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, Va. 22030
703-246-2253. TTY 703-204-2264. Fax 703-246-4253
News Release: 13/121/LHC/
May 1, 2013


Blind Spots, Dangerous Curves, Congestion: Motorcyclists Foes
Ongoing Training & Vigilance Keeps Cyclists Safe during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month


            May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and police motorists, to pay close attention to increased number of cyclists on our roadways this spring. According to Department of Motor Vehicles figures, the number of registered cyclists is at an all-time high; 189,000 registered cyclists in 2012. The number of crashes, however, has increased as well. There’s been a 14% increase in crashes involving motorcycles between 2009 to 2012. In Fairfax County, the number of motorcycle crashes drastically increased by almost one third; from 139 in 2011 up to 190 in 2012.

            Officers and safety advocates provided media demonstrations at the Fairfax County Emergency Vehicle Operations Center today showing how professional riders (police motor officers) train to navigate blind spots, curves, and accident avoidance. Police encourage riders to take a lesson from police and make sure they seek proper, certified training to be as safe as possible on roadways across the Commonwealth.

            Fairfax County employs a squad of 32 full-time motorcycle officers who are responsible for enforcing traffic laws, investigating crashes and providing funeral escorts. They undergo a strict training regimen and ongoing training is critical a component of their position. They must pass a rigorous 80 hour training course and are mandated to attend ongoing quarterly training.

 Police are also working with Rider Alert to help spread the word about the importance of ongoing training to help increase rider safety. The organization distributes safety cards to riders at the time of registering their motorcycles. The following are tips to be aware of this May.

             Top Safety Tips for Motorcyclists

  • Learn to negotiate curves.  Slow down before entering a curve.  Make sure you can see through the curve (you will go where your eyes are looking!).  Slightly accelerate coming out of the curve (do not accelerate too quickly).
  • Check your motorcycle before riding.  Check your tires for wear and proper air pressure.  Check your brakes and the motorcycle overall.
  • Riders should make sure they are ready to ride as well.  Make sure you have not used prescription drugs that could alter your ability to react.  Do not use alcohol before or while riding and make sure you have adequate sleep before driving any motorized vehicle.
  • Make yourself visible. Choose protective gear that provides visibility and protection. This includes wearing bright colors. If riding at night, wear clothing with reflective materials.
  • Allow space. Position your bike in the lane so that you can be seen. Allow additional space for emergency braking and room to maneuver. Avoid riding in a motorist’s blind spot. Make lane changes gradually and use appropriate signaling.
  • Never share a lane beside a car. A driver may be unaware of your presence. Most drivers are looking for larger vehicles, not motorcycles.
  • Clearly signal your intentions. Use turn signals before changing lanes and never weave between lanes.
  • Don’t speed. Obey the posted limits and adjust your speed to the changing road conditions.
  • Wear protective gear.

Helmet – Always wear a U.S. DOT-approved helmet. It can save your life and it is the law in Virginia.

Eye protection – Visibility is key to riding safely. Many motorcycles do not have windshields. Riders should protect their eyes with goggles that can shield the face from wind and debris, both of which can cause tearing and, blurred vision.

Body Protection – Jackets with long sleeves and trousers protect limbs from injury.

Gloves – Durable gloves should be a non-slip type to permit a firm grip on controls.

Footwear – Proper over-the-ankles footwear should be worn to help prevent injuries.

  • Complete a motorcycle rider education and training course. Many motorcyclists have had no formal training – they are self-taught or learned from family and friends. Before operating a motorcycle in Virginia, a rider must pass the motorcycle knowledge exam, hold a motorcycle learner’s permit for 30 days and pass the motorcycle road skills test. Completing a Virginia Rider Training Course exempts the rider from taking the exams.

PFC Burrows                             Curves



To request this information in an alternate format, call the Public Affairs Bureau at 703.246.2253. TTY 703-877-3715

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