More Than 30 People Dead in Colorado Motorcycle Crashes This Year
Colorado motorcycle accident deaths appear to be on the decline after a record-breaking year in 2022.
A total of 36 people were killed in motorcycle accidents across the state over the first seven months of the year, according to data compiled by Colorado State Patrol. That is about one-quarter of the 149 motorcyclists who died in crashes statewide last year.
While the numbers are trending down, law enforcement officers are warning bikers to be vigilant when they hit the road.
“We often worry about motorists not seeing or yielding to motorcycles, and while this continues to be a valid concern, our message today is for motorcycle riders to drive as if their life depends on it,” Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, said in a press release.
“We know riders are more vulnerable, so it is up to you to prioritize your safety by not taking risks that can lead to a tragic death or life-changing injury,” Packard added. “Riders of all experience levels can and do crash.”
When crashes happen, bikers are at particular risk of injury or death because they have little physical protection from oncoming vehicles. That is particularly true for motorcyclists who hit the road without a helmet.
Last year’s motorcycle death tally was the most on record in the state. Motorcycle accidents accounted for 20% of all traffic fatalities in Colorado during the year, despite the fact that bikers comprise only about 3% of registered motorists throughout the state.
El Paso County saw the most motorcycle deaths last year (25), followed by Jefferson (19), Adams (12), Denver (12) and Arapahoe (11).
Many of the accidents so far this year have occurred in the metro Denver area as well as in Northern Colorado and across the Western slope, CSP said. The average age of motorcyclists killed in accidents this year is 44 years old, according to CSP.
Motorcyclists: Stay in Your Lane
CSP cited two particular factors among the leading causes of fatal motorcycle accidents.
“Investigators found that speed and lane violations were the most common causal factors in these fatal collisions,” CSP said in a statement announcing the motorcycle crash data. “In addition, when speed was not listed as the causal factor, it was the most common secondary contributing factor for these fatal crashes.”
Police in recent years have been cracking down on lane changes.
State traffic law prohibits motorcycle riders and other motorists from making unsafe lane changes. They are permitted to make lane changes only after deeming it is safe to do so, first checking for other traffic and pedestrians. Infractions are punishable with a fine and driver’s license points.
Colorado law currently permits lane sharing, or two motorcycles riding side by side in a single lane. The more dangerous practice of lane splitting is illegal across the state, however.
Lane splitting happens when bikers ride between two lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic. This increases the risk of an accident for several reasons.
Other drivers are not expecting motorcycles to ride the line between lanes. Additionally, they may not notice bikers when changing lanes. Even a motorcyclist who is proceeding with caution may wind up in a driver’s blind spot by splitting lanes.
“When accidents occur from lane splitting, the motorcyclist will be on the losing side,” CSP Sgt. Troy Kessler told a local news outlet in April. “Whether a rider strikes a car side mirror, runs into a car, or travels too fast when a motorist attempts to change a lane, riding predictably helps everyone’s safety on the road.”
Lane-splitting motorcycles also often travel at higher speeds than the stopped or snarled traffic around them. The faster that lane splitters travel compared to the traffic around them, the more likely they are to be involved in accidents, according to research from the University of California.
Helmets Save Lives
Fatalities among motorcycle riders continue to increase across the U.S. The trend is happening as the total number of miles traveled by bikers falls.
Head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. About half of the bikers killed were not wearing helmets at the time of the accidents.
The truth is that helmets reduce the risk of death for motorcyclists by nearly 40 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Motorcyclists who wear helmets are also nearly 70 percent less likely than others to suffer head injuries in the event of a crash.
Wrongful Death Claims After Fatal Motorcycle Crashes
Wrongful death claims are common following fatal motorcycle and other traffic accidents.
The loved ones of a person who dies in a crash generally have the right to seek compensation from those responsible for the accident. The monetary damages typically available in these cases are designed to compensate family members for the financial impact of losing a loved one.
Obviously, no amount of money can ever allow you to go back in time and prevent an accident from happening. A wrongful death action can, however, help ease the financial strain that often comes with the loss of a loved one. It can also provide a certain level of closure by getting justice and ensuring that those responsible are made accountable for their actions.
State law limits who can pursue a wrongful death case to spouses, children and parents. In the event that a person dies without a spouse, child or parent, the personal representative of his or her estate can sue for wrongful death.
Speak with a Denver Accident Attorney
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