Motorcycle Safety Laws in Virginia

In June, a female passenger on a motorcycle was killed in a hit-and-run crash on Interstate 95 in Richmond, VA, after tumbling off the motorcycle in highway traffic. Riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than driving a car or truck, and requires extra attention, more training, and a valid Class “M”, “M2”, or “M3” designation or a motorcycle driver’s license to ride safely.
“Motorcycling is a fun, exciting way to travel and experience the beauty of Virginia; however, riding a motorcycle is serious business,” according to the Virginia Dept. of Motor Vehicles. The DMV has posted warnings on its website; among them is some useful advice about how to ride a motorcycle safely.
There’s a good reason, beyond fashion, for the leather clothing preferred by avid motorcyclist. Proper riding gear includes a helmet, eye protection, leather jackets and trousers, durable gloves, and proper footwear, all of which will protect the driver and passenger.

Wear a helmet, the most important safety equipment. The state requires an approved motorcycle helmet that meets or exceeds the standards and specifications of the Snell Memorial Foundation, the American National Standards Institute, Inc., or the federal Department of Transportation.  “An unhelmeted rider is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury than is a helmeted rider.”
• Protect your eyes from the wind, insects, dirt, gravel, or other airborne matter. Good vision is of paramount importance, and motorcycle drivers should use goggles, glasses, and face shields that are scratch-free, shatterproof, and well ventilated to prevent fog buildup.
• Wear clothing that functions as protective, made of durable materials, such as leather. Be sure to wear trousers that are not floppy or flared, to avoid tangling with the chain, kick starter, foot-pegs, or other protrusions on the sides of a motorcycle.
• Wear gloves and tough footwear. Durable, non-slip gloves are recommended to permit a firm grip on the controls. Leather boots offer the greatest protection, with high-top athletic shoes another good option. Do not wear sandals or sneakers that won’t protect you from abrasions or a sharp impact. Avoid dangling shoelaces.
The DMV recommends that both new and experienced riders take a motorcycle safety course, such as those available at community colleges and other locations throughout the state. The above link accesses courses that can be registered for online.
Craig Follis has extensive experience in litigation, negotiating and settling suits, and providing legal opinions on liability and insurance coverage. You can reach him at (888) 703-0109 or via email at

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