Many Colorado residents enjoy driving and riding on motorcycles. This state offers beautiful scenery throughout much of the year, and it is not uncommon to see motorcyclists stopped on the side of the road enjoying the scenic views. However, riding a motorcycle can become a deadly proposition if the vehicle is operated unsafely or due to the careless or negligent actions of other drivers. Here, we want to discuss the main challenges that motorcyclists face that can turn the riding experience into a tragedy.
When we look at data available from the Colorado Department of Transportation, we can see some striking statistics around motorcycle usage. During the latest reporting year, 2020, there were 137 motorcyclists killed on Colorado roadways. This number represents more motorcyclist fatalities than any other year recorded in state history. Additionally, this was a 33% increase from 2019 when there were 103 motorcyclists who lost their lives.
In 2020, motorcycles represented only 3% of all traffic on Colorado roadways but around 22% of all traffic fatalities.
The most obvious answer as to why riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than operating a regular vehicle is that motorcyclists simply do not have the same types of protections that vehicle drivers and passengers have. Motorcyclists do not have any metal frames around them, they have no airbags, and they have no seatbelts. Motorcyclists are exposed, which is dangerous when a crash occurs.
Yes, motorcyclists can choose to wear safety gear that increases their chance of surviving a crash if one occurs. Helmets are the number one type of safety gear that motorcyclists can wear to increase their chances of survival. Traumatic brain injuries are the most common cause of injuries and fatalities in motorcycle accidents.
Motorcycle helmets have proven time and time again to be effective in preventing serious traumatic brain injuries and fatalities, but far too many riders choose to forego wearing a helmet. In fact, motorcycle riders in the state of Colorado do not have to wear helmets if they are 18 years of age or older.
Even though traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of motorcyclist fatalities, they are not the only cause of these fatalities. Motorcyclists face other risks as a result of these collisions, and it is not uncommon for motorcyclists to sustain other types of catastrophic injuries, including internal organ damage or internal bleeding, crush injuries or amputations, severe lacerations or puncture wounds, spinal cord trauma with paralysis, and more.
Motorcycle accidents can occur in a wide variety of ways. In some cases, the actions of a motorcycle driver directly contribute to a crash, which can include:
However, it is also not uncommon to find that the careless or negligent actions of vehicle drivers cause motorcycle accidents. All too often, we find that drivers fail to give motorcyclists the space that they need on the roadway. Motorcyclists can do everything correctly and still fall victim to the careless or negligent actions of others around them.