CDOT encourages riders to wear helmets ahead of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

News Release

April 29, 2022 - Statewide Traffic Safety - 137 riders were killed last year, 20% of all traffic fatalities

Statewide - The recent warm spring days are enticing motorcycle riders to hit the roadways, especially on weekends. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, which coincides with the beginning of the riding season in Colorado. But with riding comes risks, which is why the Colorado Department of Transportation is reminding motorcyclists to always wear a helmet.

Taking to the roads has become more dangerous for motorcyclists in recent years. 2020 was the deadliest year on record for motorcyclists in Colorado. 140 motorcyclists were killed that year. Last year 137 motorcyclists lost their lives.

According to crash data most riders killed in 2021 were not wearing helmets. June recorded the most motorcycle deaths last year, a sign that the beginning of the riding season can be especially deadly. So far this year 17 motorcyclists have been killed. Only four of them were wearing helmets.

137 riders were killed last year, 20% of all traffic fatalities - graph

Although motorcycles are only three percent of the registered vehicles in the state, they make up nearly 20 percent of the traffic fatalities. Of those killed 89 percent were male and 46 percent were under the age of 40. The counties with the most motorcycle deaths were El Paso, Jefferson, Adams, Denver and Pueblo counites.

2021 Motorcycle Fatalities

This May the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will launch the Aftermath campaign to underscore the importance of helmet use in preventing severe injuries and death. The campaign addresses misconceptions about wearing helmets, such as helmets being too restrictive. The campaign will run across the state on billboards and on social media. 

Helmets are too restrictive - graphic of patient with head brace

“Helmet use is the most crucial factor in the survivability of a motorcycle crash,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Highway Safety Office at CDOT. “Head injuries are common in these crashes. So, whether you are riding around town or cross country, we encourage riders to always wear a helmet.”

"Whether an experienced rider or someone just getting started, cycling requires great skill and respect for the common hazards you will encounter during your ride," said Matthew C. Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. "The right gear, including wearing a helmet, can make the difference between life and death. Enjoy your ride and do it safely!"

In addition to wearing helmets, riders can do the following to stay safe on Colorado roads: 

  • Get a license endorsement. Getting a motorcycle license endorsement keeps the motorcyclist in compliance with state law and verifies the motorcyclist has the basic skills to operate a motorcycle on a roadway.
  • Wear proper gear. Proper gear includes a helmet, boots that cover the ankles, riding pants and jacket, gloves and eye protection.
  • Receive professional training. All motorcyclists should receive professional training. Long time riders are encouraged go to training classes for a refresher every few years.
  • Follow all traffic laws. All motorcyclists are required to follow the rules of the road. In Colorado, lane splitting is illegal.
  • Ride sober. Even one drink can decrease reaction times, coordination, vision, judgement and concentration, all of which are crucial when operating a motorcycle. 

CDOT also reminds drivers to use caution around motorcycles and offers these tips:

  • Check blind spots. Since motorcycles are much smaller than cars, it is easy for them to get lost in blind spots. Before making any lane changes, thoroughly check all blind spots and use traffic signals.
  • Look twice. When making lane changes, turns, merging and other traffic changes, check twice to save a life.
  • Use extra caution when turning left.. When making left turns, look carefully for motorcyclists as you they can be difficult to see.
  • Never follow motorcyclists too closely. Motorcycles and their riders can slow down quicker than cars. Giving riders more space than a car ensures that drivers have enough time to slow or stop.
  • Eliminate distractions while driving. Being mindful and aware of driving situations, changes on the roadways and other unexpected incidents increases the safety for drivers and motorcyclists.