WV Transportation

WV Transportation

WV Transportation

WV Department of Transportation

West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program Reminds Motorists to Look Twice, Save a Life


The West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind all motorists that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. The month of May brings warmer temperatures and the unofficial start of the summer road travel season with the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The GHSP reminds motorists, Look Twice, Save a Life. 

Safe riding and driving practices and cooperation from all road users will help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our nation’s highways. NHTSA reports that in 2020, there were 5,579 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes, an increase from 2019 (5,044). In contrast, an estimated 82,528 motorcyclists were injured, a 2% increase from 83,814 motorcyclists injured in 2019. Motorcyclist deaths accounted for 14% of the total highway fatalities that year.

In West Virginia, there were 38 motorcyclist fatalities in 2020, up from 28 in 2019. 

Research also shows that motorcyclists are significantly overrepresented in traffic crashes and fatalities each year. In fact, in 2020, per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists were about 28 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and were 4 times more likely to be injured.

Drivers need to understand that a motorcycle rider has different safety challenges on the roadway because of the motorcycle’s size, visibility, and riding practices like downshifting and weaving to be able to anticipate and respond to motorcyclists’ behavior. Motorcycles are among the most vulnerable vehicles on the road, putting riders at greater risk of death and serious injury in a crash. 

Due to a motorcycle’s smaller profile, it’s easy to misjudge their speed and distance from a vehicle,” said Bob Tipton, GHSP Director. “Intersections are especially dangerous for motorcycles. Watch for turning motorcycles before you turn.”

Safety on the roadways requires that everyone do their part. While driving, please follow these tips to keep motorcyclists safe: 

​​Allow adequate following distance 
Always check your blind spots
Be cautious when passing
Do not high beam motorcycles at night
Do not tailgate a motorcycle
Help keep riders safe in the dark by increasing your following distance and refrain from passing
Inform motorcyclists of your intention to turn
Motorcycles cannot stop as quickly as a car
Remember that motorcycles react more quickly than cars
Stay in your lane
Take a second look at left turns and intersections
Weather warning – bad weather can reduce your visibility

​Motorcyclists need to take precautions as well, so they are as safe as possible. One of the primary contributing factors to motorcyclist fatalities is speeding. According to NHTSA, 34% of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2020 were speeding, compared to 22% for passenger car drivers, 16% for light-truck drivers, and 7% for large-truck drivers. Motorcycle riders 25 to 29 years old involved in fatal crashes had the highest speeding involvement at 45%.

“First of all, the best advice I can give motorcyclists, whether new or experienced, would be to take a safety course,” said Mary Jarrell, GHSP Motorcycle Safety Training Coordinator. 

“Some people think that if they rode a dirt bike or bicycle as a kid, they can ride a motorcycle. Operating a motorcycle requires a great deal of knowledge, skill, and practice,” Jarrell continued. 

Jarrell shared the following tips to help motorcyclists be safe on our roads:

​Take a safety course
Ride sober
Get to know your motorcycle 
Wear proper motorcycle gear – a DOT-approved helmet is a must
Inspect your motorcycle before each ride
Obey traffic laws, use signals, and obey the speed limit
Check the weather before leaving
Be visible 
Be observant and watch for road hazards
Stay a safe distance behind other vehicles

Jarrell added that grass clippings left on roadways can be especially dangerous for motorcyclists because the clippings can reduce the traction a motorcycle’s tires have on the road surface.

To learn more about motorcycle safety, visit  For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit or call 304-926-2509.