Colorado State Officials Launch Motorcycle Safety Campaign Following Deadly Year

Last year was the deadliest year on record for Colorado motorcyclists, and the state Department of Transportation is launching a campaign to encourage people to wear helmets.

In 2020, 137 motorcyclists died on Colorado roads, a 33% jump from 2019. The second highest fatality was 125 in 2016.

Although motorcycles make up only 3% of vehicles registered in the state, they accounted for 22% of road fatalities in 2020, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The safety campaign, called Aftermath, will include billboards statewide and social media posts in May that will encourage cyclists to wear helmets to reduce fatalities and injuries.

“Research and data show that wearing a helmet is the most important factor in your ability to survive a motorcycle accident,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said in a statement. “Head injuries are common in these accidents. “

Adult motorcyclists don’t have to wear a helmet in Colorado, but people under 18 are.

The latest available data shows that 52% of bikers killed in 2019 were not wearing helmets. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the lives of 83 motorcyclists could have been saved in Colorado between 2015 and 2017 if all the bikers had worn helmets, the CDOT said.

Helmet-less runners who survive a crash often suffer from debilitating head injuries, CDOT spokesperson Sam Cole said.

“The campaign is all about helmets because we know that the main injury for people who don’t wear helmets and have an accident is severe head injury. Head trauma can leave you disabled for life, ”said Cole.

Bikers joined CDOT and Colorado State Patrol officials Thursday at CDOT headquarters to announce the campaign, which will address arguments that helmets are too restrictive or uncomfortable by showing the possible consequences of not wearing them.

Col. Matthew Packard, head of the CSP, said his agency can help bikers upgrade their skills through motorcycle rider safety training, or MORE.

Cole said the number of motorcycle deaths started to rise last spring, around the height of the COVID-19 outbreak and restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the disease.

“I think the motorcyclists took advantage of the open roads and took their bikes out to let off steam,” Cole said. “And they were going out and they were going over the speed limit. Most of the crashes were single vehicle crashes.

“So far the good news is that this year we are starting to have a lower trend than we were at this time last year,” added Cole.

The overwhelming majority of those killed in motorcycle crashes are men, Cole said. The ages vary. The latest available data shows that 56 of the 103 people killed in 2019 were 40 and over. Only one was under 20 years old.

In addition to a helmet, state authorities recommend that riders wear boots that cover the ankles, riding pants and jacket, gloves and goggles. They also said car and truck drivers should be careful around motorcycles, check blind spots, don’t closely follow a motorcycle and watch out for intersections as motorcycles can be difficult to see.

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