The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) initiated a campaign in Colorado Springs to increase motorcycle safety and urge motorcycle drivers and passengers to consistently wear helmets and other protective gear.
The Colorado Springs initiative partners with local businesses — The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Lisa’s Mobile Salon. If you can’t make it to the events in person, exciting videos from the event are available online.
Protective gear doesn’t just include helmets. Proper eyewear helps prevent irritation from dust and debris on the road and can even keep you from going blind if you’re in a motorcycle collision.
Durable pants, like heavy denim or leather, help shield your skin from painful “road rash,” the removal of the top layers of skin from scraping on the asphalt. Gloves protect your vulnerable fingers, too, so don’t neglect them.
Darrell Lingk, Director of the Highway Safety Office at CDOT, notes the importance of helmets for all motorcycle riders, no matter how experienced: “Without a helmet, motorcyclists are vulnerable on our roads, and survivability goes down substantially.” Because of this, Lingk advises that “every rider in the state [should] wear a helmet and take charge of their personal safety.”
Tragically, 89 motorcycle drivers and passengers have passed away on Colorado roadways already this year, a 7% increase from the same point in time in 2021. El Paso county has the highest number of deaths in the state, at 17, although the other populous counties of Jefferson, Arapahoe, and Larimer aren’t far behind.
Colorado Laws for Motorcycle Safety
Colorado does not require helmets for riders over the age of 18. However, motorcycle riders or passengers under 18 must wear a CDOT-approved helmet.
Despite state law allowing adult riders to decide for themselves whether to don a helmet before revving up, many motorcycle enthusiasts still wear headgear and encourage others to do so, including Jim Wear, Executive “Director at The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum.
Jim is a partner with Colorado Springs’ Activation Event and speaks in support of boosting motorcycle safety in the Mile High State: “We are thrilled to partner with CDOT this year to remind motorcyclists how important proper gear and safety training is. Wearing a helmet and proper gear could save your life.”
Although motorcycle helmets aren’t required for 18+ riders, Colorado does have other important safety regulations for bike drivers and their passengers. Eye protection is mandatory for all drivers and passengers. While a helmet visor is the safest, goggles or riding glasses made from safety glass and plastic are also legally acceptable.
However, simply having a windscreen installed on your bike isn’t sufficient. Goggles or riding glasses also make it much easier to see where you’re going and can prevent painful dry eyes after a long ride in the sun.
All motorcycles that carry passengers must be equipped with footrests for the passenger, and passengers must use the footrests when riding. If your bike doesn't come with the pegs, there are several reputable motorcycle body shops in Colorado Springs that can safely install them to state specifications.
When riding, passengers should only be on the seat behind the driver (or in a sidecar), not in front of the driver.
Finally, passing in the same lane, sharing a lane with another bike, and lane splitting are all illegal in Colorado. Motorcycles are entitled to use the entire lane and should do so for safety. “Towing,” or attaching your bike to another moving vehicle, is also against the law.
Colorado Motorcycle Accidents: The Facts and the Stats
There are a little over 201,000 registered motorcycles in Colorado, compared to nearly 1.8 million cars, trucks, and SUVs, but motorcycles make up 20% of all the total traffic fatalities in the state.
Most of these deaths were riders who failed to wear helmets, and 15 of those happened in El Paso County, the home of Colorado Springs. The county’s deadliest year for motorcycle riders was 2020 when 140 riders tragically died.
"As Colorado State Patrol troopers, we see the life-saving effect of wearing a motorcycle helmet every day,” says Colonel Matthew C. Packard, who is the chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “This campaign is a great reminder of the injuries that can occur without basic protection.”
The Colorado State Patrol is invested in keeping motorcycle drivers safe on Colorado roadways. It offers a Motorcycle Operator Safety Training class (MOST) that can help new riders learn motorcycle safety skills, including defensive driving for bikes, which is much different than defensive driving in cars.
The MOST class also teaches riders what to do if they lose control of the bike, how to handle a collision, and how to properly lay the bike down, if necessary, to protect themselves and minimize injuries from a wreck.
Safety Tips for Everyone on Colorado Roads
Motorcycle drivers aren’t the only ones that need to use caution on state highways and thoroughfares. Truck and car drivers can also do their part to improve motorcycle safety by being more aware of bikes on the road, such as when merging or changing lanes.
This means checking your blind spots on both sides of the vehicle and using additional caution at an intersection, since a motorcycle coming from the opposite direction can be difficult to see, especially at night.
Also, always leave plenty of space between your vehicle and a motorcycle in front of you — never follow too closely.
For motorcycle riders, the Colorado State Patrol notes several tips to be safe on the roads:
- Ensure you have a motorcycle license endorsement to remain compliant with state law
- Wear proper safety gear, including a helmet, eyewear, boots, and sturdy pants
- Take a professional motorcycle training class for safety and accident protection
- Follow your local traffic laws, including avoiding lane splitting
- Always drive sober — a DUI accident on a motorcycle can be deadly
If the unthinkable happens and you’re in a collision with another driver, always call 911 for police and emergency services. And for your own protection, consult with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney at Mann & Maximon.
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