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Motorcyclists and Riding Safely on Colorado’s Roads
As the weather improves, more and more people are taking to Colorado’s many scenic roadways on their motorcycles. It can be an exhilarating way to experience the outdoors, and for some enthusiasts, it’s like meditating at 55 miles per hour. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and whether you’re on a mountain road or right in the middle of Fort Collins, everyone has to exercise the same degree of awareness and safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in 2018, a 5% decrease from 2017. This followed a decrease in motorcycle fatalities from 2016, suggesting a downward trend, which is good news. But despite this silver lining, many motorcyclists are still involved in serious accidents every year. While there is no doubt this can be a dangerous way to travel, there are plenty of things both drivers and motorcyclists can do to improve the safety of everyone on the road. Interestingly, many motorcycle crashes occur with fixed objects. In 2017, the NHTSA reported that 23% of fatal accidents involved crashes into fixed objects found near the sides of the road, such as trees, utility poles, signs, guard rails, barriers, rocks, or other miscellaneous objects. Why do so many motorcyclists collide with fixed objects? Some crashes are caused when a driver's visibility is impaired due to fog, smoke, or poor lighting — most fixed-object crashes occur at night. Other crashes result from motorcyclists losing control while driving at high speeds or driving after using alcohol.
To avoid these kinds of crashes, motorcyclists need to be as attentive as possible. When road conditions are not favorable, they must pay even more attention and ride at a safe speed, even if that means going below the speed limit. In fact, this is true for all drivers, whether they’re in a car or truck or on a motorcycle. Paying attention can save lives. One of the best things drivers can do to avoid collisions is spend a few extra seconds looking for oncoming traffic at every intersection. Drivers who spend just a little more time looking for hazards, such as oncoming traffic or pedestrians, will significantly decrease their chances of a collision. It should also be noted that 33% of crashes occurred between a motorcycle and another vehicle, including cars, light trucks, or heavy trucks. Many of these collisions occur because the driver of the car failed to see the motorcycle. Motorcycles, like bicycles, are much smaller than most vehicles on the road and can be easily obscured by traffic or blind spots. So remember: When in doubt, check it out. When you’re on the road, always double-check before driving through an intersection, making a turn, or changing lanes. Don’t assume your blind spot is clear just because you didn’t see a vehicle come up from behind in any of your mirrors. We all share the same roads, and one driver isn’t more important than another. Attentive driving can go a long way toward saving lives, as can wearing the appropriate safety gear. Motorcyclists should always wear a helmet and proper riding gear, and motorists should always take time to be aware of their surroundings.
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