COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reported 137 motorcyclists killed, making up 20% of all traffic fatalities in 2021. The DOT encourages riders to wear helmets all the time – and especially ahead of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

According to CDOT, state roads have become more dangerous for motorcyclists in recent years.

2020 was the deadliest year on record with 140 motorcyclists killed. CDOT’s crash data revealed that most riders killed in 2021 were not wearing helmets. So far in 2022, the department is reporting a total of 17 motorcycle deaths – and, out of those, they say only four drivers wore helmets.

“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.” 

CDOT says motorcycles account for only three percent of registered vehicles in the state. Most deaths occurred in June, proving the start of the riding season to be especially deadly. Of those killed, 89 percent were male and 46% were under the age of 40.

El Paso, Jefferson, Adams, Denver and Pueblo counties reported the most motorcycle deaths.

CDOT will launch the Aftermath campaign to emphasize the importance of helmet use in preventing severe injuries and death. The campaign will address misconceptions about wearing helmets and advertise on billboards and social media across the state.

In addition to wearing helmets, riders can wear proper gear and even receive professional training. They must follow traffic laws and ride sober. These tips are explained further below:

  • 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. 

“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.”

CDOT also reminds drivers to use caution around motorcycles by checking blind spots, keeping distance from motorcycles, looking twice and eliminating distractions while driving. More detailed tips can be found below:

  • 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.