RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — 81 people have died in motorcycle crashes in Virginia so far this year.

Brandy Brubaker with Virginia DMV says that is already way higher than the motorcycle fatalities the state saw this time last year which was 57 deaths. However, state officials aren’t quite sure why.

“We really want to find what’s behind those numbers to see if we can bring them down and to make sure motorcyclists are safe when they’re on the roads,” said Brubaker.

According to DMV, Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico County have had the most crashes in Central Virginia and at least one motorcycle fatality so far this year. She says one factor is speed.

“A lot of crashes are caused by people who are driving too fast and just lose control of their motorcycles,” said Brubaker.

She says another big reason for crashes are people riding under the influence.

“A large percentage of motorcycle fatalities traditionally involve alcohol,” said Brubaker.

Brubaker also says drivers have to be more aware of motorcycles while they’re on the road.

“Keep that in your line of vision. Be aware that the motorcycle could be in a blind spot,” said Brubaker.

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She says it will take drivers and motorcyclists to reverse the troubling trend.

The DMV suspects one of the reasons there’s been a spike in deaths is a longer period of warmer weather giving motorcyclists more time to ride. They also think that people aren’t taking advantage of refresher courses DMV offers. Brubaker says a lot of people put the bikes away for months before going out for a ride again and a refresher course could help keep them safe.

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