New Signs Warn Motorcyclists of Potential Roadway Hazards

Motorcyclists riding in Virginia will soon be alerted to dangerous roadway conditions by a new statewide signage program. VCOM lobbied VDOT officials and worked with the agency’s staff for more than a year to improve its sign program, critical to the safety of motorcyclists.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has developed the new signs as part of a motorcycle safety awareness program in association with VCOM, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the Motorcycle Safety League, the American Motorcycle Association, and local government. The new signs alert riders to open joints on bridges, expansion joints, rough road surfaces, bumps, and uneven lanes.

“Navigating certain roads and highway work zones is often difficult in a vehicle, but it’s many times more dangerous on a motorcyclist. Riding across bridge joints, open trenches or loose gravel can be treacherous,” said Tom McGrath, founder of VCOM. &#x201C For me as a motorcyclist, these are real problems during the day. But at night or during rain or both, they can become a matter of critical injury or even death because I can’t see the road ahead to anticipate potential problems.”

The warning signs will be placed to allow the motorcyclist time to reduce speed and adjust his or her ride appropriately.

As part of the program, McGrath and VCOM Director Jim Cannon have been meeting with VDOT resident engineers and other employees to talk about motorcycling and explore ways to ameliorate roadway conditions that present particular hazards to the motorcyclist.

A brochure on the new signs now is available to motorcyclists through the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Rider Training Program. The following information explaining specific roadway conditions and their warning is contained in the brochure entitled “Get Your Motor Running/Motorcycle Safety” –

Open Joints on Bridge: Used in advance of open longitudinal joints large enough that a motorcycle could lose control, typically when the joint is parallel or no more than 30 degrees from parallel to the traffic lane and the joint is at least 1-1/2 inches wide.

Expansion Joints: Used when a joint across lanes creates a significant bump or is wide enough to cause a traction loss in wet weather so that a motorcyclist could lose control.

Rough Road, Bump, or Uneven Lanes: Used when certain road conditions, such as gravel or milled pavement, affect the roadway surface and create potentially difficult conditions for motorists, especially motorcyclists. (August 2004)