Safety Tips for Colorado Motorcyclists
Resources to Help You Avoid Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries
In recent years, motorcycle registrations have increased significantly in the United States, almost doubling from 4.2 million in 2002 to 8.3 million in 2018. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also reports that in 2018, California had the highest number of registered motorcycles: 950,780. Colorado had 188,081 registered motorcycles in that year.
Traveling by motorcycle has always been riskier than traveling by car; in 2017, motorcyclists were 27 times more likely than someone in a passenger car to die in an accident per mile traveled. Motorcycles lack the stability and visibility of cars and other vehicles, and motorcycle riders lack the protection of being fully enclosed. In the event of a motorcycle accident, these vulnerabilities put them at greater risk of injury or death than that faced by others on the road.
When riding a motorcycle, staying safe and avoiding an accident should always be your top priority.
Become a More Seasoned Driver by Getting Proper Training
Training is one of the most effective ways to develop good safety habits and minimize the risk of injury on a motorcycle. Many organizations around the country, including state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporations, offer U.S. Motorcycle Safety Education courses.
Many motorcycle training courses in the U.S. use Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course materials. Thirty states now use MSF skill tests in their motorcycle licensing process, and 45 states and all branches of the U.S. military use the MSF’s Basic RiderCourse (BRC) curriculum for their motorcycle safety and educational programs. Every year, over 400,000 students take the BRC at about 2,700 sites.
Limit Risk of Injury by Wearing Protective Gear
Motorcycle helmets, eye protection, and protective clothing make your ride more comfortable and may reduce the severity of an injury if you get in an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number one cause of death in a motorcycle accident is a head injury. A rider has a 40 percent greater chance of dying from a head injury if he is not wearing a helmet.
Despite the proven effectiveness of helmets in preventing motorcycle deaths, only 19 states and the District of Columbia require all riders to use them. Twenty-eight states, including Colorado, have laws that cover only certain riders. Under Colorado law, adult motorcycle riders and passengers are not required to wear helmets, but those age 18 must wear helmets that meet standards established by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Colorado requires all riders and passengers to wear some form of eye protection: a helmet visor, goggles, or eyeglasses made from safety glass or plastic. A windshield does not fulfill the requirement.
Be More Aware by Practicing Defensive Driving
Motorcyclists should practice defensive driving skills, which means riding in a confident and assertive manner without being either hesitant or aggressive. Nervous and indecisive riders can be at a higher risk for injury since they tend to make sudden, unexpected moves that force other drivers to react abruptly in turn. Especially when riding in heavy traffic, motorcyclists should avoid aggressive movements like suddenly changing lanes and impatiently accelerating or decelerating. Defensive driving is about sharing the road and having the skill and patience to control your part of it. Doing so makes you safer and makes everybody else safer.
Be Prepared by Checking the Weather Before You Ride
Inexperienced motorcyclists should try to avoid rain, excessive heat, and extreme cold. If you must ride a motorcycle in difficult weather conditions, play it safe:
- Pace yourself. Take a break every few hours to avoid fatigue.
- Be cautious. Slow down when visibility is low, and drive at a speed that enables you to stop within the distance that you can clearly see.
- Be patient. When on a long trip, consider stopping at a motel for the night if you grow tired or if the weather turns bad.
When riding in the rain, avoid hazards like slick surfaces, railroad tracks, puddles, and potholes. If it’s very hot out, take plenty of water breaks to stay hydrated and avoid soda containing caffeine and sugar. Keep your skin covered and watch for signs of heat exhaustion, heatstroke, or heat-related cramps.
Stay Safe by Maintaining Your Motorcycle
If you live in a climate like Colorado’s, even if you store your motorcycle, you will need to periodically bring it out of storage for some maintenance. A motorcycle requires a high degree of upkeep.
The simple act of detailing (thoroughly cleaning) a motorcycle can reveal problems that need attention. Performing an oil change every three months or every 3,000 miles will keep a motorcycle running smoothly. Maintaining proper chain tension, lubrication, and frequent tire inspection are all extremely important. If you buy only one motorcycle maintenance tool, make it a good-quality air pressure gauge. The investment may save your life.