A recent report from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles paints a distressing picture regarding motorcycle deaths throughout the state during 2017. This report, which was released on Wednesday, April 4th, indicates that over 100 motorcyclists were killed in collisions during 2017 alone. This is the highest number of recorded motorcycle fatalities to hit Virginia in over a decade.
In 2016, 72 motorcyclists died in collisions. In 2017, that number jumped up to 107: an almost 50% increase in fatalities from the previous year. Before that, the highest number of motorcycle fatalities occurred in 2011, when 90 motorcyclists died in collisions. The shocking increase in motorcycle deaths is even more unusual given that the number of motorcycles registered in Virginia decreased by almost 2,000 from 2016 to 2017.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles' report did not offer much speculation on the reasons behind the increase in motorcyclist fatality, but there is much speculation that the higher number of deaths relates to the decreased attention paid by people in cars to the world around them. Numerous cyclists credit the increased aggression and self-centeredness of drivers for the drastic rise in deaths, and while this can not be empirically proven, it does seem that a simple fact like this could easily be responsible for the higher mortality rate of bikers.
The report broke the number of deaths down by county, allowing us to see exactly how many deaths occurred in which places. The highest number of motorcycle deaths in any jurisdiction was six, and the counties in which six deaths took place included Chesterfield County, Newport News, Virginia Beach, and our own Fairfax County. While six might not seem like such a large number of deaths throughout an entire county, consider the effect that these deaths have on the families and loved ones of those affected. Even one becomes a staggering number when it is one of your own.
The report did not offer any information regarding steps by the law enforcement agencies of the various Virginia counties to combat this rise in motorcycle fatalities, and we can only hope that the police departments will begin to look into ways to enforce motorcycle safety during the current year.