Two weeks of carnage for motorcycle and moped riders in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, VA, continued on the night of June 5, 2014. This latest fatal collision for a motorcyclist occurred at the intersection of 38th Street and Colley Avenue close to the campus of Old Dominion University. An SUV crashed squarely into the broadside of the bike, and the rider died from his injuries after being transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
It was at least the third deadly wreck involving a moped or motorcycle and a larger vehicle in the two most-populous Hampton Roads cities since mid-May. And the number of nonfatal accidents for motorbike riders has also appeared to spike recently.
Some of the collisions were caused by drivers charged with operating their cars, trucks or SUVs while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. At least one wreck is being blamed on a hit-and-run driver. Each accident resulted from negligence, recklessness or a combination of both.
New rules for moped use on Virginia roads that are set to come into full effect this July require licensing and use of safety equipment such as helmets. The intent is to make riding a smaller motorized bike as safe as riding a motorcycle. As a Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorney who has helped many bikers who became victims in crashes caused by other people, I fully support such efforts.
At the same time, I know that nothing protects a person on a motorcycle or moped better than the attention of people behind the wheels of cars, SUVs and trucks. Motorbikes have no side panels, crumple zones or roofs. Literally nothing separates them from, or lessens the impact of, a collision. Even the best helmet can only provide so much protection against traumatic brain injuries. And while jeans may reduce lacerations, they cannot prevent fractures or amputations.
Drivers bear much of the responsibility for preventing injuries and deaths for motorcyclists and moped riders. They need to live up to that.