As Spring Weather Revs Up, Stay Alert and Watch for Motorcycles

May 1, 2012 - Traffic Safety - May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

DENVER—  With Colorado’s early spring weather, you may have noticed a lot more motorcycles on the roads, and that is why the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Colorado State Patrol (CSP) are reminding drivers to be extra alert to help save lives.

Motorcycles make up only 3% of the state’s registered vehicles, but motorcycle riders accounted for 17% (78 of 446) of traffic deaths in 2011.

Since the beginning of this year, 17 motorcycle riders have been killed in crashes, according to preliminary reports to CDOT.  That compares to 13 riders killed during the same time period in 2011.

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.

According to safety officials, changing the driving habits of motorists and motorcyclists alike will help decrease the numbers of motorcyclist killed and injured in crashes. Motorcyclists are reminded to make sure that they are visible to motorists, and that they follow the rules of the road.  All road users are reminded to never drive, ride, walk or bicycle while distracted.

“A motorcycle is one of the smallest vehicles on our roads, often hidden in a car or truck’s blind spot. Every driver needs to aggressively look for them before changing lanes or merging with traffic,” said Col. James Wolfinbarger, chief of the Colorado State Patrol.  “Motorcyclists have responsibilities, too. They should obey traffic rules, be alert to other drivers, never ride while impaired or distracted, and always wear proper protective gear, including a helmet.”

Tips for drivers to help keep motorcyclists safe on our roadways:

  • Remember, a motorcycle is a vehicle with all of the rights and privileges of any other motor vehicle.
  • Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width—never try to share a lane.
  • Perform a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, and at intersections.
  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a mo­torcycle – motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.
  • Allow more following distance - three or four sec­onds - when behind a motorcycle so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emer­gency.
  • Never tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.
  • Never drive while distracted.

Motorcyclists can increase their safety by:

  • Avoiding riding in poor weather conditions;
  • Wearing brightly colored protective gear and a DOT-compliant helmet;
  • Using turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if the rider thinks no one will see it;
  • Combining hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention to themselves;
  • Using reflective tape and stickers to increase conspicuity;
  • Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers; and
  • Never driving while impaired.

For more tips and information about motorcycle training and safety, please visit