CDOT Video Seeks to Make Crashing Real

Ate asphalt with armor and had room for desert

CDOT's "Ate Asphalt with armor" poster.

Road rash is something a lot of motorcyclists are familiar with from personal experience. It’s not fun, and it’s not pretty. But how many of us have ever faced this skinned-alive experience in its extreme form? As in not fun, not pretty times 10?

Well, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently put a video up on YouTube where, working with a trauma surgeon in order to make it authentic, they did a make-over on a Fort Collins biker to show what the really bad stuff looks like.

The video is part of CDOT’s aggressive motorcycle safety program that runs all summer and is targeted at younger riders. Among the materials produced for the campaign are posters with a sort of day and night effect. On one, on one side it reads, “Ate asphalt with armor and had room for desert.” On the other side it reads, “Ate asphalt without armor and never got back up.” Another says, “High-sided with a helmet and sat courtside/High-sided without a helmet and rests church-side.” The third says, “Laid it down with gear and picked up his date/Laid it down without gear and never got back up.”

OK, not the most trip-off-your-tongue clever phrasing but they’re trying to put out a message. The point is, they do want us to get home safely.

The flip side of the campaign, of course, is to remind other drivers that we are out there. During May, the annual motorcycle awareness month, CDOT has those signs over the highway telling people to be aware, motorcycles are everywhere. We all know that people driving cars and trucks are the primary causes of the majority of motorcycle crashes. And then, for the bikers again, there is the drive sober part of the campaign.

How much good does all of this do? Good question. My guess would be it’s more successful at reaching the riders than the drivers, but that’s just my gut feeling. Sometimes I think we’ve over-engineered our roads. We were just over in Europe and in many places there are no lane markers, no sidewalks, no separation at all of the various forms of traffic. Cars, pedestrians, motorcycles and scooters, and bicycles all share the same space. People cooperate with each other so that everyone gets where they’re going safely. And you don’t see the distracted drivers over there that we see here because in that kind of situation you had damn well better be doing exactly one thing: driving. With all the lane-splitting and driving on the wrong side of the road and so much else that would make U.S. cops flip out, drivers in Europe pay attention to their driving–and they cooperate–and they do it a lot more safely than we do. Plus, I think their penalties if you do screw up are a lot stiffer than ours, so everyone has that incentive, too.

There’s a lesson here if anyone is interested.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Transportation choices in a narrow world

Biker Quote for Today

“People who ride motorcycles have gotten something right, and I want to put myself in the service of it, this thing that we do, this kingly sport that is like war made beautiful.” — Matthew B. Crawford

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