motorcycle deaths rising coloradoThere is a grim new statistic in Colorado: the number of motorcycle fatalities in the state rose last year to 106 deaths, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced. The number, a preliminary figure, is 11.7% higher than in 2014, and 20% higher than in 2013.

Of the 94 motorcycle riders killed in 2014, nearly one quarter — 24% — had no motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license, or had no license at all. Of the 106 deaths in 2015, a large number of them — 78% — were riders between the ages of 16 and 55, and 84% were males. The counties with the highest number of motorcycle rider deaths in 2015 were Denver, Jefferson, and El Paso counties.

Motorcycle Safety Campaign

live to ride

Poster promoting Colorado’s Ride WISE motorcycle safety courses. Image courtesy CDOT

The Department has announced a new motorcycle safety campaign (a variation of its award-winning Ride Wise campaign), which coincides with May being Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Glenn Davis, CDOT highway safety manager and former training course instructor, said:

Motorcycle operator safety training courses teach new and experienced riders the skills they need to protect themselves on the road. Navigating obstacles, quick stopping and planning escape routes are just as much a part of riding as the thrill, exhilaration and freedom of it.

Motorcycle Safety Classes

Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) classes are delivered throughout Colorado by 12 independent companies. The courses, which are offered on several levels, depending on a rider’s experience, include classroom lessons and “real-life application on controlled courses,” to help equip riders safe riding habits and the skills they need to react quickly in dangerous situations.

The new safety campaign features slogans such as “live free, die old” and “train for the wind, before you ride like it.” The campaign’s goal is to encourage more riders to take the MOST classes, particularly new riders and the demographic groups involved in the highest numbers of crashes. 

The Denver Post reports that CDOT is teaming up with dealerships, which will help to recruit riders into the training courses. Riders can watch online videos and visit the website COMotorcycleSafety.com to find classes near them.

Reaction to Classes

Among the nearly 100 comments to The Denver Post article as of Thursday afternoon, there was a sharp divide between those who favor the idea of classes and those who believe courses would not help.

A commenter named jrmanville asks how many more motorcycle riders would still be alive if only they had been wearing helmets. (Colorado does not require helmets for motorcycle riders age 18 and over, although many other states do.) And someone named Kimble commented that there are too many motorcyclists who lack licenses and wear no helmets: “Hopefully they’re all organ donors.”

On the other side of the conversation, ChrisinDenver, who has been riding a motorcycle for more than 40 years, estimates that 30% of people driving vehicles are texting or talking while driving. He urges motorcycle riders to not ride in the blindspots of cars and trucks, to be especially alert at intersections, and to be extra cautious around this time of year, because drivers are not as used to motorcycle riders in springtime as they are in summer.

Image by Henryk Sadura/123RF.