DENVER — Motorcycle fatalities in Colorado have reached their highest level on record, according to a Monday news release from the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Approximately 149 motorcycle deaths occurred in the state last year. That number represents 20% of the state's total traffic fatalities, but only 3% of the state’s vehicle registrations, CDOT said.
El Paso County had the highest number of deaths, with 25 fatalities. That’s followed by Jefferson (19), Adams (12), Denver (12) and Arapahoe (11) counties, according to CDOT.
So far this year, 21 motorcyclists have lost their lives on Colorado roads, down from 27 fatalities at this time last year.
This weekend saw at least two serious injury crashes involving motorcycles in the Denver area. And on Thursday, a motorcyclist was killed in a crash in Aurora. He was not wearing a helmet.
CDOT said of the 149 fatalities in 2022, 75 involved riders not wearing helmets.
"Wearing a helmet can mean the difference between a minor injury and a catastrophic one," CDOT official Darrell Lingk said in the news release. "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."
The agency said that helmet use nationally has declined in the past year, going from 69% in 2020 to 65% in 2021. Helmet use was significantly higher in states that legally require them.
CDOT said riding drunk also plays a significant role in motorcycle-involved crash fatalities, with impairment being a factor in 41% of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2020 nationwide.
Monday’s news release is part of the agency’s push for safety amid Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May.