Posted in on June 25, 2009

Sharing Colorado Roads – Motorcycle Safety Tips

More and more motorcycles are on our Colorado roads, and in fact, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), motorcycle registration has jumped from 89,897 in 1994 to 173,873 in 2008. That means that in 14 years the number of motorcycles on our roads has nearly doubled. And with this increase in the number of people who are driving motorcycles comes an increase in the number of fatalities related to motorcycle accidents.

CDOT also advises that last year, 98 passengers and riders were killed in motorcycle accidents in Colorado. This, sadly, is the highest number of reported motorcycle related deaths in Colorado history. Another interesting statistic pointed out by CDOT is that in 2008, motorcycle deaths represent 18 percent of the total 548 traffic deaths in Colorado, but motorcycles only represent 3 percent of the registered vehicles in Colorado.

This disparity in numbers indicates a tragic truth about motorcycle accidents. The percentage of motorcyclists that get in accidents on our roads is significantly higher than the percentage of regular automobiles that get into crashes. Because of the rapidly increasing number of motorcycles on our roads, and because of the high rate of fatalities in motorcycle accidents, some safety precautions need to be taken to ensure that the number of fatalities in Colorado this year does not rise above last year’s record of 98. In order to keep the number of motorcycle related deaths down and while the motorcycle registration numbers continue to climb, everyone on our roads needs to be cognizant of the dangers of motorcycles and how to ride them safely.

Safety Tips For Motorcycle Riders:
Wear a helmet
-Over two-thirds of the people who died in motorcycle accidents in 2008 were not wearing helmets
Do not drink and drive
-This may seem obvious, but driving a motorcycle is just like driving a car – it is dangerous to drink and drive. In 2008, 34 percent of the riders that were killed as a result of motorcycle crashes were under the influence of alcohol.
Drive carefully and watch the cars around you
-Because motorcycles are so much smaller than the other vehicles on the roads, especially with the number of SUVs on Colorado roads, riders need to be aware of the other cars around them and always lean on the side of assuming the driver of the car cannot see you.
Do not drive without a motorcycle endorsement
-Surprisingly, in 2008 out of all the motorcycle fatalities, 39 percent did not have a motorcycle endorsement on their license. This statistic shows that almost 1 in every 4 people who died last year in motorcycle accidents did not have the motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license indicating they had passed the Colorado written and road tests for motorcycle rules and safety.
Do not drive aggressively or recklessly by speeding or weaving through traffic or doing other dangerous driving
-In 2008, out of the 98 motorcycle deaths, in 80 percent of the accidents, the driver of the motorcycle was determined to be at-fault for the accident.

Safety Tips for Drivers of Cars:
Be aware of your blind spots

-Remember that motorcycles are small in comparison to regular cars on the road, and exceptionally small compared to large SUVs and trucks that are plentiful on Colorado highways. So be sure to check your blind spots and all around you before changing lanes.
Keep a safe distance
-Although you may think that you are driving at a safe distance behind a motorcycle on the highway, remember that sometimes traffic comes to a sudden stop and oftentimes it is easier to see traffic stopping up ahead for people in larger vehicles because you can see over the car in front of you. But remember that motorcyclists cannot see anything except the back of the car in front of them, so leave plenty of room between your car and their motorcycle just in case traffic slows or stops suddenly.
Just be courteous
-We are all sharing the roads and even though you may have had a motorcyclist cut in front of you or is very loud, they have the same rights as you to use the Colorado roads. When a car and a motorcycle collide, the prevailing vehicle is usually the car, so trying to avoid agressively driving around a motorcycle is advisable for everyone’s safety. Just remember, road rage often leads to accidents and injuries and sometimes death, so don’t let your emotions effect your driving.

If drivers of both motorcycles and cars can abide by these simple safety rules, we can all be safer on the roads in Colorado and lower the motorcycle crash statistics from CDOT.

For further information on motorcycle injuries, view Motorcycle Accident Stats.

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