There are plenty of motorcycle enthusiasts throughout the state of Colorado. Even though this state offers plenty of scenic riding opportunities, motorcyclists do face many risks on the roadways. Here, we want to specifically look at motorcyclist safety on the highways throughout Colorado. Operating on motorcycles presents several challenges unique to motorcyclists that need to be discussed so that you can remain safe when you are riding alone or with passengers.
Highways Present Unique Challenges for Motorcyclists
Data available from the Colorado Department of Transportation shows us that motorcycle fatalities accounted for around 22% of all traffic fatalities in Colorado during the latest reporting year (2020). This is a striking statistic, especially when we consider that motorcycles represent only 3% of all vehicles on Colorado roadways.
Traditionally, highways have been statistically safer than other types of roadways when it comes to vehicle accidents and driver safety. However, highways present certain challenges for motorcyclists.
Inevitably, traffic on the highway is going to be moving at a much higher rate of speed than on other types of roadways. This does not mean that motorcyclists should avoid highways altogether, but they do have to prioritize safety. Motorcyclists do not have protection from metal frames, airbags, or seatbelts. But there are steps that motorcyclists can take to help ensure that they remain safe on fast-moving highways in Colorado.
- Proper safety gear. Helmets are the best way to prevent serious brain injuries and fatalities in the event a motorcycle collision occurs. It is important to have a proper fitting, DOT-approved helmet. Additionally, motorcycle riders and passengers should wear proper gloves, motorcycle boots, heavy-duty pants, long sleeve shirts, and a motorcycle jacket.
- Bluetooth helmet. A Bluetooth-enabled helmet can go a long way towards ensuring that the driver is less distracted when they are operating a motorcycle. This type of technology can connect directly to a phone and help a motorcycle rider answer and make calls. Motorcyclists need to avoid any type of distraction that takes their hands off the handlebar or their eyes off the roadway.
- Avoid bad weather. Operating a motorcycle in inclement weather is a much riskier proposition than operating a traditional vehicle in bad weather. In a heavy rainstorm, a rider’s visibility is significantly limited, and bad weather can dramatically decrease traction.
- Ride according to your skills and abilities. Motorcycle riders need to be aware of their own skills before they head out on major highways. New riders are discouraged from operating at higher speeds and in situations that could lead to confusion. Highways can certainly be confusing, particularly in unfamiliar areas.
- Remain alert. Defensive driving is the number one way to stay safe on the roadways no matter what type of vehicle you are operating. Motorcyclists who practice defensive driving techniques are one step ahead of the game when it comes to safety. Motorcyclists should always be aware of potential hazards and be ready to respond to any unsafe driving of other drivers on the roadway.
- Keep the bike maintained. It is crucial for motorcyclists to regularly inspect and maintain their bikes. Just like any other machine, motorcycles can malfunction. Regular checkups can help motorcyclists identify problems and fix them before it is too late. Even a small malfunction of a motorcycle on a highway can lead to a major accident. Additionally, if a bike breaks down on the side of the highway, this is much more dangerous than breaking down on a regular roadway.
- Avoid alcohol or drugs. Drivers of any vehicles should not operate while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is particularly important for motorcyclists to understand. Riding while impaired is a very bad idea. When a motorcyclist is under the influence of any type of substance, this could impair their judgment and slow their reaction time. This could also increase impulsiveness and lead to risky riding decisions.