CDOT, CSP Join NHTSA to Prevent Motorcycle Crashes During Rally Season

“Safe2Sturgis” Campaign Aims to Keep Motorcyclists Safe

CDOT is partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Colorado State Patrol, the Wyoming Highway Patrol, and the Wyoming Department of Transportation to raise awareness of motorcycle safety among the thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts traveling to and from the 77th Annual Sturgis motorcycle rally.

"In July and August, every state in the West will see a 30 percent increase in motorcycles, as rallies like Sturgis draw thousands of bikes to our highways," said Gina Mia Espinosa-Salcedo, regional administrator for NHTSA. "Motorcyclists are gearing up for long, dangerous rides, and we want everyone to arrive alive. For this reason, we're kicking off the second year of our Safe2Sturgis campaign. All road users should know how to detect and respond to motorcyclists sharing the road, and riders must operate their bikes safely and wear full protective gear."

The "Safe 2 Sturgis" campaign includes safety messages for both motorcyclists and automobile drivers alike. The campaign—which started July 29 and ends Aug. 19—targets with the week before, during and after the rally. A #Safe2Sturgis hashtag is included in the campaign to encourage motorists and riders to post photos of how all roadway users are staying safe to Sturgis.

Motorcycle fatalities are at an all-time high in Colorado; to date, there have been 56 motorcycle deaths this year in Colorado.

"Last year we saw tremendous success with this campaign, when motorcyclist deaths during the three weeks surrounding Sturgis plummeted from 45 in 2015 to 26 in 2016, and this year, we're partnering with law enforcement, DOTs, national parks, and the motorcycle industry to remind motorists and motorcyclists to share the road," Espinosa-Salcedo said.

Comparison of Crashes During Safe2Sturgis 3-week period

2013 2014 2015 2016 Increase /Decrease between 2015 and 2016
Colorado 12 16 16 4 -75%
Nevada 8 8 3 3 0%
North Dakota 1 2 1 2 100%
South Dakota 11 3 15 6 -60%
Utah 3 4 3 5 67%
Wyoming 2 4 7 6 -14%
TOTAL: 37 37 45 26 -42%

2016 3-week period: July 31-Aug. 19, 2016

2017 3-week period: July 30-Aug. 18, 2017

"Motorcycle fatalities in Colorado surged to 125 deaths in 2016," said Glenn Davis, CDOT highway safety manager. "So CDOT is doubling down on its campaigns to inform motorists to be more aware of motorcyclists and for motorcyclists to ride sober, always wear helmets and practice safe riding behaviors."

NHTSA Region 8 kicked off the Safe2Sturgis campaign in 2016 to urge motorists to watch out for motorcyclists, and remind riders to ride defensively and wear safety gear. As a result, motorcycle-involved crashes during the same three-week period (July 31-August 19) accounted for only 9.6 percent of all motorcycle crashes in 2016, and motorcycle deaths plummeted from 45 to 26.

There is no helmet law in Colorado. Riders without a helmet are 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in a crash and are three times more likely to suffer brain injuries.

"With an increase in motorcyclist traveling through Colorado during Sturgis, all road users need to be aware of the increased presence of bikes, and should know how to detect and respond to motorcyclists sharing the road," said Davis.

During the three-week period, road users across all six states will see the same safety reminders on interstate variable message signs, banners and social media outlets, reminding everyone from Nevada to North Dakota to watch for motorcyclists.

The NHTSA regional office offers general tips to drivers on how to prevent a fatal crash with a motorcycle:

  • Motorcycle operators have all the rights of the road as any other motorist. Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.
  • Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections, and listen for motorcyclists approaching in blind spots.
  • Allow more distance (three to four seconds) when following a motorcycle. This gives the operator additional time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
  • Never drive distracted or impaired.

Motorcyclists can increase their safety by following these steps:

  • Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
  • Obey all traffic laws and be properly trained and licensed.
  • Use hand and turn signals during every lane change or turn.
  • Wear brightly colored safety gear to increase visibility.
  • Ride in the middle of the lane where you will be more visible to drivers.
  • Never ride distracted or impaired.

For more information on motorcycle safety, visit