State Reminds Drivers to Pay Attention and Watch for Motorcycles

May 2, 2011 - Traffic Safety - May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

DENVER— Colorado motorcycles make up only 3% of the state’s registered vehicles, but motorcycle riders accounted for 18% (82 of 465) of traffic deaths in 2010.  In an effort to save riders lives, the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol are reminding all motorists to proactively watch for motorcycles, which can be harder to spot in traffic and easy to miss, especially when driving distracted.

May is national Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, so throughout the month, the state will focus its safety message towards drivers with radio public service announcements and statements on highway variable message signs, reminding motorists to look twice for motorcycles at all times. In 2010, there were 53 motorcycle fatalities from May through August, representing 65% of total riders killed in Colorado last year.

“With the weather warming up across Colorado, motorcyclists are eager to get out on the roads—we want to remind motorists to be aware of this increase and be extra attentive to their surroundings,” said Col. James Wolfinbarger, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “We also strongly encourage motorcycle riders to receive training, ride sober and always wear proper safety gear to ensure the highest level of safety.”

According to research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 37 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in traffic crashes.

Distracted driving plays an important role in motorist awareness. Distracted driving is not just related to talking or texting while driving—it is anything that takes a motorist’s eyes or mind off the road for 1-2 seconds or more such as eating, sightseeing, controlling children and/or pets, etc.

“Motorcycles are often difficult to see, not to mention much more vulnerable than a passenger in a car. We always stress the importance of staying attentive and focused while driving, but with the recent increase of motorcycles due to warmer weather, this simple task can really help save the lives of Colorado riders,” said Pam Hutton, CDOT’s chief engineer and governor’s safety representative.

Motorists should aggressively watch for motorcyclists at all times and always:

  • Check your blind spots before changing lanes or merging, especially in heavy traffic.
  • Double-check traffic at intersections before you turn or pull out.
  • Allow a minimum of two-second “space cushion” when following a motorcycle.
  • Use turn signals to indicate your next move allowing motorcyclists to anticipate traffic flow.
  • Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width—never try to share a lane.
  • Stay focused on the driving task and treat motorcyclists with the same respect and courtesy offered to other motorists.

Motorcyclists are also reminded to make themselves visible to motorists by wearing brightly colored protective gear, strategically using lane position to see and be seen, using turn signals for every turn or lane change, wearing reflective tape and stickers and combining hand and turn signals to draw more attention to themselves.

CDOT hopes to continue the decline of motorcycle deaths in to 2011. “Motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle—if everyone pays attention while driving and respects all vehicles on our roads, we can help increase safety and save lives across the state,” added Hutton.

Throughout the spring and summer, CDOT will continue its Live to Ride campaign focused on getting more motorcycle riders to receive training and get endorsed. For more information about motorcycle training and safety, please visit For more motorist tips on how to safely share Colorado roads, please visit