Motorcycle deaths dip in Mesa County, following U.S. trend

Mesa County had one fatal motorcycle accident in 2009, reflective of state and national trends showing a drop in motorcyclist deaths, according to figures released Friday.

The lone Mesa County fatality was down from four in 2008, and three in 2007, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Colorado in 2009 had 88 fatalities involving motorcyclists, down 10 from 2008, while roughly 40 percent of last year’s fatal accidents involved alcohol. But when compared to all traffic deaths, motorcyclists accounted for 19 percent of total accidents, which was up slightly from 2008, according to state figures.

“While the overall decline in rider deaths is encouraging, we recognize that nearly 1 in 5 people killed on our roadways last year were riding a motorcycle, and we take that very seriously,” Pam Hutton, CDOT’s chief engineer, said in a news release.

State figures show Larimer County had 13 fatal accidents in 2009, up from three in 2008. El Paso County recorded 11, which was down from 15 in 2008.

La Plata County had four in 2009, which led all western Colorado counties.

Colorado’s dip in rider fatalities was in line with national numbers for 2009. A study sponsored by the Governors Highway Safety Association, which was released last month, showed a 16 percent drop nationwide in fatal motorcycle accidents through the first nine months of 2009, according to an Associated Press story published in April. The study’s author attributed the decline in part to a cutback in recreational motorcycle riding.

“What gets cut in bad economic times is money you spend on recreation, not money you spend on the necessities of life like getting back and forth,” James Hedlund, a safety consultant and former official with the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, said in the AP story.


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