A handful of motorcycle riders that don’t abide by the rules give motorcyclists as a whole an unjustified reputation for being reckless and for violating traffic laws. As a rider myself, I know that motorcycle riders unjustly get a bad reputation from the general public, as well as from insurance companies.
Be an informed rider and know how to keep yourself and others safe by practicing the guidelines below.
Helmet Laws & Safety Equipment
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that as of May 2012, 19 states and the District of Columbia had universal helmet laws, 28 states had a partial helmet law, and three states had no helmet law at all.
According to a recent CDC study:
- A total of 14,283 motorcyclists were killed in crashes in the U.S. during 2008–2010, including 42% who were not wearing a helmet.
- In the 20 states with a universal helmet law, 12% of fatally injured motorcyclists were not wearing a helmet, compared with 64% in the 27 states with partial helmet laws and 79% in the three states without any helmet law.
In Colorado, there are specific laws and guidelines that riders should be aware of:
- Colorado is a partial helmet law state, meaning that riders (drivers or passengers) under age 18 are required to wear a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)-approved helmet. According to CDOT, almost two-thirds of the motorcycle riders killed during 2010 in Colorado were not wearing a helmet, or were not wearing it properly, and at least 19 riders could have survived if they had been wearing helmets.
- Colorado law requires that all motorcycle operators and passengers wear some sort of eye protection, such as goggles worn outside of the helmet or eyeglasses equipped with safety glass or plastic lenses. A visor on a helmet qualifies as eye protection; a windshield does not.
- Proper clothing can help protect a motorcyclist’s body when involved in an accident. Suitable gear includes full-fingered gloves, over-the-ankle boots, long pants (not shorts), and long-sleeved jackets made of leather, nylon, or Kevlar with heavy padding on the elbows, spine, and shoulder areas. Bright colors help increase visibility.
License Endorsements & Safety Training
To operate a motorcycle in Colorado, you must have the proper endorsement on your driver’s license, specifically an “M.” The M endorsement will allow you to ride a two- or a three-wheel motorcycle. Scooters and vehicles under 50cc or that do not have the ability to travel at a speed of more than 40 mph do not count as motorcycles in Colorado, but a basic driver’s license is necessary to operate them. One way to get the motorcycle endorsement in Colorado is to pass a written exam and riding test at your local driver’s licensing office.
Another option: The Colorado DOT administers a Motorcycle Safety Foundation approved program known as MOST — Motorcycle Operator Safety Training. Those who successfully past a MOST exam can take their completion card to a Colorado state driver’s license office to get their M endorsement, no further testing required.
Other benefits of MOST:
- Provides high-quality, low-cost training
- Offers a variety of course levels, from basic to advanced
- Qualifies riders for discounts at local retailers and insurance companies
- Gives motorcyclists training that will enable them to ride safely in almost any situation
Don’t Drink and Ride
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, motorcycle fatalities in Colorado are increasing at a disturbing rate, and in 2011, almost one in five traffic fatalities were motorcyclists, and 36% of those riders killed were driving under the influence of alcohol.
As a result of these alarming statistics, the Colorado DOT launched the “Don’t Ruin the Ride” campaign in the summer of 2012. This program reminds motorcyclists that if they’ve been drinking, they need to find options other than climbing on their bike.
Ride by the Rules
To ensure the safety of riders and passengers, Colorado has specific rules to motorcyclists must abide by before, during, and after riding:
- Passing a vehicle in the same lane is against the law, as is sharing a lane with a car, although splitting a lane with another motorcycle is legal.
- “Clinging,” or attaching a motorcycle to another vehicle (towing), is also illegal.
- Motorcycles must have footrests for passengers, and they are required to use them.
- Passengers must ride behind the driver or in a sidecar, not in front of them.
- An obvious yet often overlooked tip: keep your motorcycle in safe operating condition at all times.
To find out more about motorcycle accidents and how to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of by insurance companies, take a look at my interview with Tom Martino on Denver’s Fox31.
Contact Me Today!
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident in Denver or anywhere in Colorado, before you talk to the other party’s insurance company, talk to me. I’ve represented thousands of individuals who have been injured in motorcycle accidents across the state of Colorado, and I’ve settled over $100 million in accident cases for my clients. I can get you the settlement you deserve, and you don’t have to pay me until I come through for you!
Contact me today to schedule a free consultation by filling out the contact form, or by call our Denver office at (303) 816-3025 or toll-free at (800) ROSEN-911.
At the Law Offices of Daniel R. Rosen, it’s our goal to get you through your motorcycle accident and injury claim as quickly and smoothly as we can. I personally handle every single case that comes across my desk, and I have three decades of experience handling motorcycle accident and injury cases.