Officials urge drivers to be alert as more motorcyclists hit the roads

Officials urge drivers to be alert as more motorcyclists hit the roads

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - More motorcyclists will be revving up and hitting the road, now that the weather is getting warmer. Local officials want all drivers to stay alert behind the wheel and keep an eye out for riders on two wheels.

May marks National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Rick Troutt, the owner of Iron Sports Custom Cycles, works on bikes all day and is an avid rider. He said he doesn’t need a month to know the risks of riding.

“A lot of our customer have had some very serious accidents,” Troutt said.

So far this year, there have been seven motorcycle crashes just within the City of Roanoke.

In 2018, the city saw a total of 19 crashes and one fatality, according to the Roanoke Police Department.

“It makes us very conscious of the fact that we are not invincible out there and we are very vulnerable,” Troutt said.

Traffic officers in the department said they have felt that vulnerability firsthand.

“I have close calls all the time, even on a marked motorcycle,” Officer D.H. Julian said.

Officers said drivers can’t be on autopilot behind the wheel. They need to take the time to do all the steps, like checking their blind spot.

Motorcyclists are not as visible as a vehicle, so Julian emphasized the importance of looking over your shoulder to check before merging or changing lanes.

Julian also wanted to warn people about the dangers grass clippings and other debris can cause motorcyclists. He said the grass clippings make it difficult for the bike’s tires to grip the road and can cause a rider to lose control. He urged everyone to make sure they don’t leave the scraps from their yard-work in the roadway and instead blow it back into their yards.

Virginia State Police are also actively encouraging all drivers to be safe out on the roads.

On Saturday, May 18, State Police officers are hosting a Ride 2 Save Lives event to help teach motorcyclists different rider safety tips.

The event is being hosted across the region. For details about one of the events near you, click here.

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