Motorcycle awareness as weather warms up
May 30, 2017
Motorcycle laws and safety will be the first topic in a series of quarterly articles for the Sky-Hi News. Each quarter, we will focus on a specific traffic topic, including applicable laws and safety tips.
With warm weather and summer activity rapidly approaching, there will be an increase in motorcycle traffic throughout Grand County. Preliminary data indicates traffic crash fatalities in Colorado totaled 607 during 2016. Approximately 125 of those were motorcycle deaths.
First and foremost, it is important to know Colorado's driver's license requirements for legally operating a motorcycle on public roadways. There are two types of motorcycle endorsements in Colorado. The "M" endorsement allows licensed drivers to operate a two- or three-wheeled motorcycle. The "3" endorsement allows licensed drivers to operate a three-wheeled motorcycle only.
In order to obtain either of these endorsements, you must be at least 16 years old and meet the following requirements: a driving record review, physical aptitude test, vision test, pass a motorcycle written exam, pass the motorcycle operator's driving skill exam at a State Driver's License Office or with a certified third-party tester and pay the required fees.
In addition to driver's license requirements, Colorado Revised Statutes dictate several equipment and safety requirements. Helmets are not required for drivers and passengers who are 18 and older; however, helmets must be worn by drivers and passengers younger than 18. In addition, eye protection must be worn by all drivers and passengers, regardless of age.
Regardless of speed, riders not wearing helmets are more likely to die from injuries sustained in a crash.
In closing, my most important advice to riders is "See and be Seen." Utilize defensive driving skills by maintaining safe distances and clearances. Ensure your headlamps, brake lamps and turn signals are functioning, and use them properly to help passenger vehicles see you in traffic. Consider reflective clothing for visibility and protective layers to ensure environmental elements do not contribute to fatigue. A tired rider is a dangerous rider.
For those of us who don't ride, stay alert and watch for motorcycles while driving. Give them a wide berth and plenty of space.
I will close these articles the same way every quarter. Never operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Ask yourself: "Is it worth the loss of a life?"