Information courtesy of the Colorado Department of Transportation
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and the Colorado Department of Transportation and Douglas County are urging motorcyclists and all drivers to practice safe habits on the road. The reminder comes as Colorado motorcycle fatalities have reached their highest level on record. As the weather gets nicer, motorcycle fatalities tend to increase.
In 2022, 149 motorcyclists were killed on Colorado roads, representing 20% of the state’s total traffic fatalities. On unincorporated Douglas County roads, six people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in 2022. Three of those deaths involved motorcycle riders.
Please keep the following tips in mind to reduce crashes:
- Observe all traffic laws and always obey the speed limit
- Drive and ride alcohol- and drug-free
- Avoid distractions such as phones or anything else that takes your eyes off the road
- Yield to motorcyclists, especially while turning at intersections
- Wear high-visibility personal protective gear, eyewear, and DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets
Drivers also need to use caution around motorcycles. Intersections are particularly dangerous since drivers of passenger vehicles often fail to see oncoming motorcycles.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that speed and alcohol are large contributing factors in motorcycle crashes; 41% of motorcycle crashes on Douglas County roads involved 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%.
Helmets are a simple and effective way to reduce the likelihood of injury or death during a crash. Nationally, helmet use has declined in the past few years. The use of DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets declined from 69% in 2020 to 65% in 2021. In unincorporated Douglas County, though, helmets were properly used 73% of the time last year.
Learn how to identify a safe, DOT-compliant helmet at nhtsa.gov/motorcycle-safety/choose-right-motorcycle-helmet.
Alcohol impairment also plays a significant role in motorcycle-involved crash fatalities: 41% of the 2,158 motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2020 nationwide were alcohol-impaired. In 2020, motorcycle riders involved (killed or survived) in fatal crashes had higher percentages of alcohol impairment than any other type of motor vehicle driver.