SR 20 - North Cascades Highway - Motorcycle safety

Motorcycle crash trends and characteristics between Sedro-Woolley and Okanogan

The annual number of motorcycle crashes along the route, and the severity of the injuries, are higher than those recorded on similar highways. Inattention, fatigue, and high-speeds entering curves are the primary contributing factors.

Crashes by the numbers

Along the North Cascades Highway:

  • 20% of all crashes involve motorcycles
  • 95% of motorcycle crashes cause bodily injury to the rider
  • 30% involve either incapacitating injuries or fatalities
  • 75% occur on curves, during the daylight hours, with dry roads

Washington Pass Overlook – Milepost 162.3

Washington Pass Overlook, Milepost 162.3

Utilize scenic pullouts

The North Cascades Highway is a popular scenic, mountain drive for travelers, and has breathtaking vistas and overlooks.

Towns along the route provide riders an opportunity to stretch their legs and experience the attractions that the route has to offer. Dozens of vehicle turnouts and scenic overlooks provide a reprieve from the winding roadway and slow-moving traffic that can occur during tourist season.

Scenic turnouts by milepost:

  • Gorge Creek Overlook - MP 123.4
  • Diablo Lake Overlook - MP 131.8
  • Rainy Pass Picnic Area - MP 157.6
  • Washington Pass Overlook - MP 163.2
  • Leader Lake Picnic Area - MP 224.3

Traffic safety improvements

WSDOT has taken actions and implemented a number of improvements to enhance safety and draw greater attention to road features ahead. While traveling, riders should watch for the following warning devices:

  • Advanced Curve Warning & Speed Advisory Signs
  • Chevrons & Arrow Boards along curves
  • Intersection Warning & Road Name Signs

Intersection warning and road name signs

Please be aware of potential roadway hazards such as debris and deer.

WSDOT Maintenance diligently removes fallen rock from the roadway and repairs damaged pavement. Crews maintain the pavement markings and replace guideposts when damaged. If you identify a hazard on the highway, please contact the WSDOT TMC at 509-667-2802 (available 24 hours a day).

WSDOT's commitment to reducing motorcycle crashes along SR 20

Motorcycles are involved in twenty percent of all crashes along the North Cascades Highway.*

Each year, 14 motorcycles are involved in an accident along the route, 4 of these involve either incapacitating injuries or fatalities.*

To keep motorcyclists safe, we urge everyone to share the road and be alert, and we are reminding motorcyclists to make themselves visible, to use DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets, to utilize scenic turnouts when fatigued, and to always ride sober.

In addition, WSDOT is implementing several safety improvements along the route that were identified in a 2016 study.

The assistance of the Federal Highway Administration and the Washington State Patrol in the development of the Road Safety Audit is gratefully acknowledged.


Washington State Department of Transportation
North Central Region Traffic Office (Road Safety Audit Team)
2830 Euclid Ave. Bldg. A
Wenatchee, WA 98801-5916

Lauren LoebsackCommunications