By Master Trooper Gary Cutler
Colorado State Patrol
Motorcycle season is upon us again. Dust off the motorcycle seat and check it out to see if your bike and you are ready to hit the open roads again.
As fun as it is to ride a motorcycle, I wanted to let you know that the Colorado State Patrol is seeing an increase in motorcycle crashes and fatalities, and we really want to curb that problem. Contrary to what a lot of people may think, a lot of these crashes haven’t included other vehicles. They are single motorcycles going down. This issue seems mostly to be with riders that don’t have a lot of training or as much experience as they should have to ride. Their skills may not be the best because they don’t ride every day. This is not meant to be demeaning to these riders, but to have them realize steps may be needed to increase their riding abilities.
Consider researching a motorcycle operator skills course. As Brian Tracy stated, “Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.”
I believe that wholeheartedly when it comes to strengthening your riding skills. You can never know too much about riding techniques. The courses have different levels of skill training for all riders. Usually they teach for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders. So, even if you’ve been riding for years, a training course can be for you. Maybe try an advanced riders’ course and see how it can improve your skills.
So, let’s delve into some of the problems we see when it comes to motorcycle riders crashing.
1. Dirt and rocks on the roadway. Some riders are not looking out for it. You see a lot of it especially in early spring from snow plow operations.
2. Going into blind curves too fast and going off the road or into oncoming traffic. Know the area you’re riding. If it’s an area you’re unfamiliar with, don’t out-ride your skills. Take your time and enjoy the ride.
3. Having passengers on the bike that are unfamiliar with leaning or who don’t have confidence in the operator and counterbalance, causing the bike to go off the roadway. It also goes the other way with motorcycle operators who don’t know how to ride with a passenger on the back of the bike. Have that conversation prior to riding with someone on the bike.
4. Not knowing how to use the front brake in tandem with the back brake. It is imperative to be able to stop quickly when needed. Learn how to use your brakes correctly.
5. Watching for vehicles coming into your path. Have an escape plan to stay out of the vehicle’s way. You can always be in the right and still be injured.
6. Leaning into curves that place your upper body over the center line and in the path of oncoming traffic. Don’t hug the center line so closely.
7. Not having the proper safety equipment to prevent injury in the event of a crash. This includes a helmet, eye protection, gloves, boots, padded jacket and pants.
8. Absolutely no alcohol when riding. It happens more often than you think.
One last item: Make sure you have that motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license. We do check for those on a traffic stop. So, if you don’t ride, but know someone who does, talk to them about some of the things I hit in this article. You may save the life of a friend or loved one. These are very basic concepts of riding, but they are so often overlooked.
As always, safe travels.