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DMV: Seven unhelmeted motorcyclist deaths reported, decade high for Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- According to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), so far in 2019, there have been seven motorcyclist deaths where the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet.

They say this is a decade high for Virginia with more than a month left in the year.

There were zero unhelmeted motorcyclist fatalities last year, one in 2017, four in 2016 and three in 2015.

“A helmet is the most important safety equipment a motorcyclist wears,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Before you even think about getting on your bike, make sure you have on the proper gear, including an approved helmet.”

In Virginia, the law requires motorcyclists and their passengers to always wear a helmet, and the helmet must meet or exceed the standards and specifications of the Snell Memorial Foundation, the American National Standards Institute Inc., or the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The DMV says that helmets are about 29 percent effective in preventing motorcyclist deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.

A rider without a helmet is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury than is a helmeted rider.

Additionally, motorcycle-related deaths are higher so far this year with 87 as of Friday, Nov. 15, compared to 83 during this same time period in 2018.

“Our goal is to always see traffic fatalities decreasing from year to year, so when the trend is upward, we need to redouble our efforts,” Holcomb said. “That means every driver out there needs to look twice for motorcycles, avoid distractions and never drive impaired. And every motorcycle rider needs to wear the proper gear, obey speed limits and ride within their abilities.”

DMV offers the Virginia Rider Training Program for both beginning and experienced riders.

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