Laws for Motorcyclists in Colorado

two harley davidson motorcycles parked in lot

Riding a motorcycle can be exhilarating: speeding along a scenic roadway, the wind in your hair, enjoying the sites and sounds of nature. Unfortunately, riding a motorcycle is also dangerous. Like bicycles, the exposed nature of the vehicle makes motorcyclists much more vulnerable when an accident occurs, no matter how minor. You can reduce your chances of being involved in a deadly crash by knowing motorcyclist laws in Colorado, as well as a few tips to keep yourself safe. 

Do Motorcyclists in Colorado Have to Wear a Helmet?

Although helmets have been shown to drastically reduce the risk of injury and death, drivers over the age of 18 in Colorado are not required to wear a helmet. Riders under 18, however, must wear a helmet approved by the Colorado Department of Transportation. 

Eye protection is required for all riders, regardless of age. Again, a helmet will provide the best form of eye protection. But goggles, sunglasses, and other eyewear with safety plastic will be a reasonable alternative. 

Can I Have a Passenger on My Motorcycle?

You can have one extra rider on your motorcycle as long as they have a designated footrest. Your passenger must also ride behind you or in a sidecar, never in front. 

What is the Age Requirement in Colorado for a Motorcycle?

The minimum age to ride a motorcycle in Colorado is 16. If you are under the age of 16, you can only ride while under direct supervision of a Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructor. 

Do Motorcyclists Need a License?

You must possess a valid Colorado driver’s license in order to ride a motorcycle. In addition, you must apply for a special motorcycle endorsement on your license. To do this, you have two options:

Option 1: 

  • Pass a written exam
  • Buy a motorcycle permit
  • Pass a motorcycle driving skills test
  • Buy your new license with the motorcycle endorsement

Option 2:

  • Take a Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) course. You will be given a license waiver once you complete the course.
  • Make an appointment at the DMV and present your MOST waiver to have your endorsement added to your license. 

If you are under the age of 18, you will need to hold a riding permit for 12 months before you can legally add the endorsement to your license. 

Do I Need Motorcycle Insurance in Colorado?

Yes. You must register your motorcycle with the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles and proof of insurance is required to do so. 

What are the Traffic Laws for Motorcyclists?

Motorcyclists are expected to obey all the same traffic rules and regulations as other motor vehicles. However, there are a few rules specific to motorcycles that you should be aware of. 

  • Passing: in Colorado, it is illegal to pass another vehicle within the same lane. 
  • Lane-sharing: it is not permitted to share a lane with a car; however, you are allowed to ride side-by-side with one other motorcycle. 
  • Towing: is expressly forbidden to grab onto another vehicle or attach your motorcycle to another vehicle while riding it. 

How Can I Stay Safe on a Motorcycle?

While you cannot always anticipate an accident, there are plenty of ways you can reduce your chances of being injured while on your motorcycle. The most important thing you can do is take a Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) course. 

Although MOST courses are not mandatory, they offer invaluable coaching that can prepare you for a variety of situations on the road. No matter how skilled a rider you may be, you will inevitably be faced with unpredictable weather, drivers, and other hazards on the road. A MOST course will help you hone your judgment and reactivity in such situations. 

In addition to a safety course, keep the following in mind before you head out on the road:

  1. Wear protective gear, including a helmet. Even though they are not required, helmets reduce your risk of head injury by 69%. The CDC estimates that helmets were directly responsible for saving over 1700 lives in 2017. Even if the weather is hot, wear protective clothing. This includes a leather jacket, pants, gloves, and over-the-ankle boots. Appropriate attire will keep you safe from debris and bad weather while driving, and from serious injury in the event of a crash.
  2. Always check the weather forecast before you ride. On a motorcycle, you have less traction and reduced visibility, so rain, ice, and snow pose a serious threat. Likewise, avoid riding your bike in extremely high temperatures. If you must ride when the temperatures rise, be sure to take extra precautions to avoid heat exhaustion. Wear a hydration backpack while driving, and pack plenty of extra water and electrolyte drinks. Take breaks where you can remove your jacket and other layers as needed to cool off.
  3. Inspect your bike before you ride. Make sure all of your lights and signals are working and test your brakes. Check oil levels and tire pressure, adjust your mirrors, and test the horn.
  4. Make sure other drivers can see you. Many accidents (most, in fact) occur because another driver did not see the motorcyclist. To be as visible as possible, use the following guidelines:
      • Wear bright and reflective clothing
      • Use your headlights, even in the daytime
      • Stay out of vehicle’s blindspots
      • Always use your turn signals
      • Keep a safe distance behind vehicles 

What Happens if I Am in a Motorcycle Accident?

No matter how prepared you are, accidents happen. If you are in a motorcycle crash, your first priority should be your health and safety. 

Once you have received or are receiving medical care, you will want to file an insurance claim as soon as possible. In the event that the crash was not your fault, you may also wish to pursue legal action. A qualified motorcycle insurance attorney can help you navigate your claim while you focus on recovery. If you or a loved one has been in an accident, contact the Roth Group for more information on how we can help. 

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