The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Region 8 are joining forces in a safety campaign to raise awareness of motorcyclists traveling to and from summer motorcycle rallies.
For the first time, traffic safety partners in Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota are teaming up in a border-to-border initiative, entitled "Safe 2 Sturgis," to prevent motorcyclist injuries and deaths on our highways.
"Every state in the West will see an increase in motorcyclists in July and August, as motorcycle rallies, such as Sturgis in South Dakota, draw thousands of riders across our region," said Gina Mia Espinosa-Salcedo, Regional Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "We know that operators are passionate about their bikes and their events, and knowing that they 'live to ride and ride to live,' we want to encourage everyone's increased attention and safety during peak riding weeks."
"Motorcycle fatalities in Colorado surged to 105 deaths in 2015 and they're up again this year," 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."
63 motorcyclists have been killed in crashes so far this year. 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.
Fatal crashes involving motorcycles are up 19% across the Region. Colorado, Nevada, South Dakota, and Wyoming saw more motorcyclists die in 2015 than in 2014, and many states are already losing far too many riders in 2016.
Of the 1,555 motor vehicle deaths in the Region last year, 275 were motorcyclists, and 16% of the Region's motorcycle fatalities occur during the three-weeks around the Sturgis rally, which takes place the second week of August. Thirty-four percent of these fatalities involved another car or truck, and oftentimes motorcyclists lost their lives by running off the road or crossing the centerline. "Wearing a helmet remains the number one way to save your life and reduce serious injury, but we all play a part. It's up to all motorists and motorcyclists to share the road and make our roads safer," said Espinosa-Salcedo.
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.
** Always allow more follow 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.
"By following the rules of the road, we can all prevent crashes, and ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safely," concluded Davis. "Our message is for all drivers and riders: Share the road and watch out for motorcyclists."