Motorcycle deaths spike in Colorado
Denver, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Motorcycle fatalities in Colorado reached a record high in 2008.
Last year, 98 motorcycle riders and passengers died on Colorado roadways, up from 90 in 2007. Motorcycle fatalities made up 18 percent of the 548 traffic deaths in Colorado last year, despite representing only 3 percent of registered vehicles.
Nearly seven out of 10 riders killed in Colorado last year were not wearing a helmet or were wearing it incorrectly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries, meaning 25 Colorado riders could have been saved if they had been wearing one.
Lack of training is also a factor in Colorado’s fatal motorcycle crashes. Motorcycle riders were found to be at fault in 80 percent of the fatal crashes. Also, 39 percent of riders killed did not have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license or no license at all.
Older riders are at highest risk for dying in a motorcycle crash. Riders age 45 and older represented 39 percent of Colorado’s motorcycle fatalities in 2008. But the largest jump in fatalities came in the 18 to 34 age group, comprising 36 percent of motorcycle fatalities, up 40 percent from 2007.
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CDOT oversees a state-funded motorcycle training program called MOST (Motorcycle Operator Safety Training). A list of the state’s MOST-certified trainers can be found at http://www.CoMotorcycleSafety.com.
Impaired riding is also a major problem. Over one-third of riders killed in motorcycle crashes in 2008 were under the influence of alcohol.
Experts offer the following tips for drivers:
– Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
– Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width ” never try to share a lane.
– Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
– Allow more following distance, three or four seconds, when behind a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. And don’t tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
In addition to taking a training course, experts say motorcyclists can increase their safety by following these tips:
– Wear brightly colored protective gear and a helmet. Red, yellow, orange and white are highly visible and help a rider stand out.
– Strategically use your lane position to see and be seen.
– Use turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if you think no one will see it.
– Use reflective tape and stickers to make you more visible to other motorists.
– Combine hand and turn signals to draw more attention to yourself.