Thursday, May 24, 2018

Staying safe on the SR 20 North Cascades Highway

By Mike Allende

It's shaping up to be a warm and sunny Memorial Day weekend and it just might be the perfect time to take your motorcycle out on the highway.

One of our most popular routes for motorcycles is the beautiful SR 20 North Cascades Highway, which opened after its yearly winter closure earlier in May. But, while undeniably scenic, the road can also be one of the most hazardous – especially for those on motorcycles.
The SR 20 North Cascades Highway is one of our most popular routes for people to ride their motorcycles across.

Each year, on average, 14 motorcycles are involved in collisions on the North Cascades Highway. Of these crashes, 95 percent result in injury to the rider. Unfortunately, we've already seen one fatal motorcycle crash on the highway this year.

The vast majority – 75 percent – of motorcycle-involved crashes on the North Cascades Highway happen on curves during the daytime and on dry roads.
The North Cascades Highway is twisty and drivers must pay attention to their speed on the winding roads.

We teamed with the Federal Highway Administration on a study to help make the highway safer for everyone. Among the safety improvements we're making are:
  • Adding advanced curve warning and speed advisory signs
  • Adding arrow boards along curves
  • Adding intersection warning and road name signs
In addition, we've created a safety brochure that we're distributing to businesses throughout the corridor with tips about keeping everyone safe. Some of those are highlighted below.
Left: We're distributing these safety brochures all along the SR 20 North Cascades Highway corridor to encourage motorcycle safety. Right: We're adding several new signs like this to indicate curves on the North Cascades Highway.

Our maintenance crews work to remove debris like fallen rocks from the roadway, as well as repair damaged pavement and maintain pavement markings and signs. But we need drivers' help as well.
  • Always be alert when operating a vehicle. No distracted driving.
  • Never operate a vehicle – whether it has two wheels, four or even more – when impaired.
  • Please watch your speed – this is a twisty, winding highway.
  • If you're operating a motorcycle or bicycle, make yourself as visible as possible. And remember, it's the law to wear a helmet.
  • Use our scenic turnouts when they're fatigued or want to safely get good views of the area. There are dozens of scenic turnouts along the highway.
  • When pulling out of a turn or side street, look twice for motorcycles.
  • If you're following a motorcycle, give them space as motorcycles can decelerate far quicker than other vehicles.
  • Be on the lookout for wildlife crossing the highway.
Everyone plays a role in keeping everyone else safe on the highways. Be alert, watch your speed and following distance and work together to have a safe holiday weekend.


Rich said...

Where can we get the brochures to put in the Skagit general store

WSDOT said...

Hi, Rich. Thanks for the question. Please email Joseph Burnell at and he should be able to help you get some of the brochures.

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