Since the start of the year, 52 motorcyclists were killed in Colorado accidents, with 12 fatalities alone since June, and fatalities usually rise during summer months as more motorcycles hit the roads. Of these crashes, more than half involve another vehicle, most often with the driver of a car at fault, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. And motorcyclists are more than 6 times as likely than passenger car occupants to suffer a fatality in those accidents. Statistics like these are just one reason why the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) launched its “Live to Ride” motorcycle safety campaign. This safety program, which targets motorists who share the road with motorcycles, urges drivers to look twice to make sure to avoid crashes. “Looking twice helps ensure drivers see motorcyclists,” says Sam Cole, a CDOT spokesperson.
The CDOT campaign, and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, raises awareness by urging drivers to use extra caution around motorcycles by offering these motorist tips to keep riders and drivers safe:
- Watch for motorcycles by searching the traffic around you constantly and check your blind spots before changing lanes or merging, especially in heavy traffic. Double-check traffic at intersections before you turn or pull out because motorcycles can easily be hidden in traffic. Look for a helmet above, tires below, or a shadow alongside a vehicle that you can’t see around.
- Anticipate hazards that may confront the motorcyclist and predict how they may react to the situation. Even though maneuverability is one of a motorcycle’s better characteristics, don’t expect motorcyclists to always be able to dodge out of the way. Poor road conditions, bad weather, flying debris, oil slicks and heavy traffic pose high risks for motorcyclists. Remember that stopping distances for motorcycles are nearly the same as cars, meaning slippery pavement or other hazards require greater braking distance, so allow a safe space between you and a motorcyclist.
- Allow a minimum two-second “space cushion” when following a motorcycle by picking out a fixed object ahead of you. When the motorcycle passes the object, count off, “one thousand one, one thousand two.” If you haven’t passed the same object after two seconds, your following distance meets the two second minimum. In poor driving conditions, at higher speeds and at night, use a four or five-second following distance for greater safety.
- Most crashes between cars and motorcycles involve turning left at an intersection, so if you are preparing to cross traffic or turn left, take a second look for motorcycles. Motorcycles are harder to see than cars due to their small size, so it may be more difficult to judge their oncoming approach speed.
- Share the road safely by not driving your car in the same lane as a motorcycle, and when a motorcycle is in motion, see more than the motorcycle, see the person under the helmet who could be your friend, neighbor or relative. Treat motorcyclists with the same respect and courtesy you afford to other motorists. Though a motorcycle is a small vehicle, its operator still has all the same rights of the road as a car or truck.
- Failure to obey and yield the right-of-way can result in the death or serious injury of a motorcyclist. Use turn signals to indicate your next move. This allows the motorcyclist to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.
- Never drive distracted or impaired, especially around motorcycles, because there will be a greater risk to you and others on the road.
If you or someone you love were injured in a motorcycle accident, an experienced Colorado motorcycle accident lawyer can help you understand your rights and discuss your options for recovering the compensation you deserve.