Making Colorado roads safer after state hits record high for motorcycle deaths in 2022

Police say the rider was alone at the time of the crash.  The driver of the car stayed on scene...
The scene of a motorcycle crash in Colorado Springs in 2022. As the weather gets warmer, more riders tend to be out on the roads, making crashes more likely.(KKTV)
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 6:17 AM MDT
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DENVER (KKTV) - Motorcycle deaths hit an all-time high last year, and CDOT wants to keep that record from ever being broken again.

May marks Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and CDOT is encouraging everyone to take this time to make the roads safer for those on two wheels.

So far in 2023, motorcycle fatalities are down from the same time last year. However, as temperatures rise, so do the risks on the roadways.

“As the weather gets nicer, motorcycle fatalities tend to increase during the summer riding months,” CDOT said.

In 2022, 149 motorcyclists were killed on Colorado roads, an outsized portion of all motorist fatalities when compared to the actual number of registered riders in the state.

“Representing 20 percent of the state’s total traffic fatalities [in 2022], but only 3 percent of the state’s vehicle registrations,” CDOT said.

Last year, El Paso County more motorcyclist deaths than any other county, with 25. The next closest were Jefferson County with 19, Adams and Denver counties with 12, and Arapahoe County with 11.

“It only takes one mistake to result in tragedy,” said Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of Colorado State Patrol. “Trained riders tend to be in fewer and less severe crashes. Make a commitment to follow traffic laws and ride with reduced risk by advancing your skills through training.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says drinking and driving and speeding are two of the biggest factors in these crashes.

“According to NHTSA, 34 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2020 were speeding, compared to 22 percent for passenger car drivers, 16 percent for light-truck drivers, and 7 percent for large-truck drivers. Motorcycle riders 25 to 29 years old involved in fatal crashes had the highest speeding involvement at 45 percent,” CDOT said.

“Alcohol impairment also plays a significant role in motorcycle-involved crash fatalities: 41 percent of the 2,158 motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2020 nationwide were alcohol-impaired. In 2020, motorcycle riders involved (killed or survived) in fatal crashes had higher percentages of alcohol impairment than any other type of motor vehicle driver (27 percent for motorcycle riders, 23 percent for passenger car drivers, 19 percent for light-truck drivers, and 3 percent for large-truck drivers).”

And when involved in a crash, wearing a helmet can be the difference between surviving and not. In 2022, almost half of all motorcycle fatalities involved a rider not wearing a helmet.

“Wearing a helmet can mean the difference between a minor injury and a catastrophic one,” said Darrell Lingk, director of the Highway Safety Office at CDOT. “A rider without a helmet is extremely vulnerable to a permanent or life-altering injury in a crash. So wear a helmet and other protective gear to make it home safely to your family.”

CDOT recommends all motorists, whether on four wheels or two, abide by the following safety tips to avoid crashes:

  • Observe all traffic laws and always obey the speed limit.
  • Drive and ride alcohol- and drug-free.
  • Avoid distractions such as phones or anything else that takes your eyes off the road
  • Yield to motorcyclists, especially while turning at intersections.
  • Wear high-visibility personal protective gear and DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets. NHTSA data estimates that helmets saved 1,872 motorcyclists’ lives in 2017, and that 749 more lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn their helmets. Learn how to identify a safe, DOT-compliant helmet at