The Colorado Department of Transportation is rolling out a new safety campaign –Check Twice for Motorcycles — asking drivers to be on alert.
The department is especially concerned because the number of motorcyclist deaths in Colorado in 2016 — 58 so far — is nearly 14% higher than the 51 at this time last year. It’s particularly alarming because the 105 Colorado motorcyclist deaths in 2015 marked an all-time high for the state.
Colorado’s Helmet Law
Of the 58 motorcyclists who died, 34 were not wearing helmets.
According to Consumer Reports, Colorado’s law requires helmets only for motorcycle riders and passengers age 17 and younger. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia require all motorcycle riders and passengers to wear them. In these states, nearly 100% of riders wear them, but only about 50% of riders wear the helmets in states without the laws. CR writes that it is safest for motorcycle riders and passengers to always wear a helmet, one that complies with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.
Regarding the uptick in motorcycle crashes in Colorado, CDOT Communications Manager of Traffic Safety Sam Cole, wrote:
This is a growing and alarming problem, not just here in Colorado, but nationwide. A problem which everyone — both riders and drivers — needs to help combat.
Motorcycle Safety Campaign
CDOT’s new safety campaign features is using social media to show motorcyclists in unusual disguises: Motorcyclists may be hard to find, they are not hiding from drivers. The campaign is also placing safety messages on radio stations, on gas pumps, and on safety cards that will be given out all over Colorado.
The campaign, which began last week, will run through Labor Day, but its message will be delivered not only during peak riding season, but throughout the year.
Another CDOT motorcycle safety campaign earlier this year encouraged riders to take safety training courses, targeting young men, who make up a large segment of those involved in motorcycle crashes. It used slogans including “Live Free, Die Old” and “Train for the Wind, Before You Ride Like It.”
Check Your Blind Spots
Jennifer Tolbert, who co-owns the Motorcycle Training Academy at Chapel Hills Mall in Colorado Springs, noted that there are more motorcycles on the roads nowadays, Rachel Riley wrote for The Gazette. Tolbert said drivers don’t often look over their shoulders when changing lanes, but motorcycles can be hidden in a driver’s blind spot.
Consumer Reports says a person is 30 times more likely to die in a motorcycle crash than in a car accident. And the statistics are even worse for older riders, who are three times more likely to be hospitalized after a crash, because of slower reflexes, poorer eyesight, and brittle bones.