Colorado is one of the most popular destinations for motorcyclists around the country. With stunning canyons, majestic mountain peaks and rich history, it is a great state to spend the day riding. Yet many motorcyclists also suffer serious and fatal motorcycle accidents in Colorado. In 2016, 125 motorcyclists lost their lives, representing over one-fifth of the state’s total traffic deaths. Paved and unpaved roads in Colorado can host unique hazards for motorcyclists.
Something that makes Colorado so popular for sightseers is its rural roads. Backcountry routes that wind through canyons and prairies can be breathtaking, but they can also pose significant hazards for bikers. Poorly maintained and unpaved roads can have potholes, dips, cracks and debris that make them difficult to cross on a motorcycle. It is the property owner’s legal responsibility to maintain the road so that it is reasonably safe for travelers. Failure to do so could lead to city liability if a motorcyclist suffers a serious injury.
Colorado can have long, harsh winters, with snowfall occurring year-round at some of its highest altitudes. The worst of the snowy season spans from October to late April. Riding in the snow can have extreme risks, such as black ice. Black ice is difficult to spot because it blends with the blacktop. Hitting black ice can make a motorcyclist lose control and crash.
Salt or sand remaining on the ground from snow abatement efforts could also cause a motorcyclist to crash. Stay home if you know a bad snowstorm is about to come through your city. Many motorcyclists retire their bikes during the winter in Colorado, only bringing them out in the sunny spring and summer months.
Colorado’s weather is not always ideal for motorcycling. Colorado weather systems can bring snow, sleet, hail, strong wind and heavy rain. Riding in bad weather can present hazards such as slippery roads or visual obstructions. Riders should always check the weather before heading out to make sure they will not be riding into the eye of a bad storm. If caught in bad weather, it might be wise to wait out the storm at a pit stop, such as one of the state’s many historic towns.
The city and state governments are responsible for keeping Colorado’s roads safe. This includes supervising construction projects to keep them reasonably safe for drivers. Unsafe construction zones may have dangerous detours, equipment in the road, loose gravel, not enough signs or uneven shoulders that could be deadly for unsuspecting motorcyclists. The city could be liable for accidents involving unsafe construction zones.
Some roadways have inherently dangerous designs. For example, if a road does not have enough guardrails or has poor visibility due to overhanging trees, it could have an unsafe design. City planners may be responsible for motorcycle accidents that happen due to unreasonably dangerous road designs.
One of the main factors that increase the dangers of the road for motorcyclists is distracted or negligent driving. Throughout the U.S, distracted drivers contributed to the deaths of 3,166 people in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Distracted drivers in Colorado may text, talk, email, use social media, watch videos, play with the radio, eat, drink or otherwise fail to dedicate 100% of their attention to the road. Distraction can make it easier to miss an oncoming motorcycle. If you or a loved one was injured due to a distracted driving accident, our Denver accident attorneys can help.
Colorado’s wilderness is one of its many attractions – yet it also contributes to a serious motorcycling hazard: crossing animals. Deer, moose, elk and even black bears could wander into the road and cause a crash. Although wildlife crossings have worked to reduce animal collisions in Colorado, motorcyclists should still look out for animals in the road. The most dangerous times of day for many animal crossings are sunrise and sunset.