As I write this, I’m looking out the window of my Denver personal injury law firm and I have noticed an uptick in the number of motorcyclists and scooters passing down 6th Avenue. And why not?! Spring and summer are upon us so it’s time to get that bike out of the garage for some deep breaths of that incredible Colorado air.
I have plenty of motorcyclist friends who are jazzed to get back on the road after taking the winter off, but I’ve encouraged them to take extra precautions this year to invest time in Colorado motorcycle safety. They’re my friends and I want them to stay safe and protect themselves against injuries and financial ruin.
In 2016, Colorado motorcycle deaths hit an all-time high, skyrocketing 15% from the year before.
And the same goes for you. Before you ride, please do the following:
- Make certain that your insurance is turned on and make sure you have enough UIM coverage
- Take a refresher riding course (more on this topic below)
- Buy the proper gear for the rides you’re taking (more on this topic below)
- Join BikerDown to protect your fellow riders and yourself (more on this topic below)
I know all of these precautionary safety steps may seem nerdy in the motorcycle world, which is predicated on independence and freedom. So, don’t think about doing them for yourself… do them for your loved ones, your spouse, and your children.
Colorado Motorcycle Deaths Spiked in 2016
In 2016, Colorado motorcycle deaths hit an all-time high, skyrocketing 15% from the year before. There were 125 motorcycle deaths in 2016 (most of these people were not wearing helmets. We’ll discuss gear below). The 2016 number represents a 50% increase from 2012, when 79 deaths were recorded.
Now, here we are in 2017 and we have a chance to change the trajectory of these statistical tragedies. If you are a long-time motorcycle rider, you no doubt know someone who has been hurt in an accident. It is very, very common. I’m not saying this to encourage you to stop riding; I’m not a fool! I’m just saying that you should recognize the facts and statistics and prepare yourself and your family for the likelihood that you may become injured, even if you’re the best rider on the road. You just can’t plan for other people’s dumb choices, right?
Colorado Motorcycle Safety Awareness and Training
In January, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced that it was going to spend $390,000 in fiscal year 2017 on motorcycle safety awareness and training campaigns targeting both drivers and motorcycle riders.
Everyone from welders to lawyers must stay on top of their craft – why should motorcycle riding be any different?
From the CDOT website:
This year’s campaign, “The Best Never Stop Training,” has evolved to speak to a wider audience, embracing motorcycle enthusiasts of all ages from your typical novice to the veteran roadster.
CDOT’s “The Best Never Stop Training” safety campaign includes online videos, posters, digital banners and billboards that aim to encourage motorcycle enthusiasts of all skill levels to continue to learn how to improve their expertise. Positive messaging like, “master one skill, begin honing the next,” and “there is no second place in this field” will resonate with riders. The primary goal? Raise awareness about the benefits of, and increase enrollment in, motorcycle-operator safety training courses.
Basically, the idea is for all of us to be continuous learners, which is something most of us already do to stay on top of our job or profession. Everyone from welders to lawyers must stay on top of their craft – why should motorcycle riding be any different?
I wrote a blog about a fantastic motorcycle training school in Colorado Springs. I also encourage you to check out the CDOT “Ride Wise – Get Trained” website, where you can find information about the endorsement process and find a list of certified training providers in your area.
The great helmet debate
Buy the Proper Motorcycle Safety Gear
So now, yes, I’m going to wade into the great helmet debate. I know this is a touchy subject for many so I’ll just share my perspective as a Denver motorcycle attorney. I already mentioned that most of the motorcyclists who died on Colorado roads in 2016 were not wearing helmets. That’s not a statistical anomaly; that is the result of well-known science. People who hit their heads in accidents (which, let’s face it, is going to happen) are more likely to die.
For those of you who think, “When my time is up, I’m ready.” Think about this: the people who don’t die from brain trauma often end up living with brain injuries for the rest of their lives. I’ve seen bad-ass bikers turned into mental infants who need help dressing and eating. Is that the life you want for yourself? Perhaps more important: Is that the life you want for your loved ones who will have to care for you?
Please, go out and invest in a full-face helmet before you get on your bike this summer.
Also, consider buying the following:
- Motorcycle boots
- Riding jacket
- Riding gloves
OK, so I’ve mentioned that you need to protect yourself from accidents, but you also need to protect yourself from financial ruin. There are many ways to do this. Remember: Step 1 at the beginning of this blog was to turn on your insurance and make sure that you have UIM coverage?
I also encourage you to join BikerDown.
BikerDown is a non-profit organization that was established in 2011 with a mission to assist motorcycle accident victims. BikerDown provides emotional support to family members of injured or killed riders, medical equipment and even financial advice to help victims keep creditors at bay as they recover.
When you become a member of BikerDown, you not only join a community that helps injured riders, but you help yourself and your family, as well, because members also receive Aflac Insurance. Why is this important? Because, if you have a family depending on you, you have a duty to make sure that they can pay for your care if you are permanently hurt or even injured. Even something as simple as road rash can take days or weeks to heal and, depending on your line of work, that could be devastating to your financial situation. The Aflac Accident policy included in your BikerDown membership can give you the added financial assistance you need to recover.
My law firm is a proud supporter of BikerDown. To learn more, visit their website at BikerDown.org.
I hope that your summer riding is full of beautiful (safe, injury-free) adventures! Contact me if you have any questions about this article. 303-388-5304.