Live to Ride Encourages Motorcyclists to Get More Training

April 11, 2011 - Traffic Safety - State Debuts First Motorcycle Skill Rating Map.

DENVER — Lack of motorcycle training appears to be a major factor in many of Colorado’s motorcycle fatalities, so the state’s Live to Ride campaign this year is focused on encouraging all riders -- even experienced ones -- to get professional training.

Motorcycles make up only 3% of the state’s registered vehicles, but motorcycle riders accounted for 18% of traffic deaths in Colorado during 2010.  More than one-third of motorcycle operators killed in crashes did not have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license, which is required by law. Motorcycle operators were determined by law enforcement to be “at fault” in 71% of fatal crashes. And over half (56%) of fatal motorcycle crashes were single-vehicle crashes, meaning only the motorcycle was involved.

“These factors point to the increased need for proper motorcycle training. The absence of an endorsement, for example, typically indicates the operator has not received the training necessary to navigate our roadways safely,” said Col. James Wolfinbarger, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “There’s no doubt that some of these deaths could have been avoided if the rider had been properly trained to understand the dynamics of their bike and how to handle various road conditions and curves.  However, we know riders are not totally to blame.  Drivers of other vehicles need to share the road and be more aware of motorcycles around them.”

During Motorcycle Safety Month in May, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will focus its safety message toward drivers with radio advertising and statements on the state’s variable message signs, reminding drivers to look twice for motorcycles and share the road at all times.

Overall motorcycle fatalities are down slightly from 88 in 2009 to 82 in 2010. Denver County recorded the highest number of motorcycle fatalities last year, a significant jump in fatalities from 3 in 2009 to 9 last year. The next highest counties were Jefferson, Pueblo and El Paso with 8 each; Weld had 7, Adams had 6, while Boulder and Larimer counties each had 5 motorcycle fatalities.

Riders over age 40 made up the majority (70%) of the state’s motorcycle fatalities, and 20% in this age group were not endorsed. “Whether you’re new to riding or just need a ‘tune-up’ on your skills, proper training can make the ride that much safer, more enjoyable and legal,” added Wolfinbarger.

CDOT and CSP hope the decline in motorcycle deaths will continue in 2011.  This year’s Live to Ride campaign features billboards, print ads in motorcycle enthusiast publications, and posters in biker-friendly bars and restaurants all aimed at encouraging riders of all levels to take training classes.

CDOT is also debuting another tool to help riders -- the first-ever motorcycle skill rating map of Colorado. The motorcycle skill rating map offers the motorcycle riding community important information regarding popular motorcycles rides and skills that may be necessary to travel the state’s roadways safely.  It was developed with input from ABATE of Colorado and the Colorado Sportbike Club.

“The color-coded map indicates easy, moderate and difficult routes across Colorado,” said Pam Hutton, CDOT’s chief engineer and governor’s representative for highway safety. “We hope riders will use the map to plan rides and carefully consider all aspects of a route, especially if they have riders of different skill levels in their group.”

The Colorado skill rating map is available at major motorcycle dealerships, visitor and welcome centers, state parks, and at CDOT headquarters.

CDOT offers another incentive for training through its Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) program, which provides high-quality motorcycle training at a lower cost for Colorado residents and active duty military personnel. Riders who pass a MOST class can simply take the completion card to a state driver’s license office to get an endorsement with no further testing needed. For more information about basic and advanced rider training offered through MOST and for a list of the state’s MOST-certified trainers please visit

Motorcycle Fact Sheet (pdf)