Fatal motorcycle accidents have been increasing throughout the United States in recent years. In 2016, 5,010 motorcyclists lost their lives nationwide, according to data from the Governors Highway Safety Association. And while Arizona’s rate of 130 deaths per year stayed steady from 2014 to 2016, that number puts Arizona in the top 12 states for motorcyclist deaths.
Why Are Fatal Motorcycle Crashes Increasing?
A recent article in the Tucson Sentinel explored a number of reasons that motorcycle crash rates are increasing throughout the country – and why they aren’t dropping in Arizona despite concerted efforts by law enforcement offices and safety advocates.
Some of the most common reasons included:
- Lower gas prices and a stronger economy. With the economy near full employment and gas prices lower than they were several years ago, more people have the discretionary income to both buy motorcycles and plan vacations that involve riding. More exposure to the road means more chances for an accident.
- Loosening of helmet laws. Several states have joined Arizona in not requiring riders over age 18 to wear a motorcycle helmet – even though data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that helmets reduce the risk of death in a crash by more than one-third.
The NHTSA also estimates that the risk of a fatal accident is 26 times higher for motorcyclists, per mile driven, than it is for those in cars and trucks. Both bikers and motorists have a responsibility to help reduce these risks.
3 Tips for Keeping Bikers Safer on Arizona Roads
Here’s how motorists can help reduce the risk of a motorcycle accident:
- Cut down on distractions. Many car-motorcycle crashes occur because the driver was using a cell phone, setting a GPS unit, or doing another task that caused distraction – and prevented the driver from seeing the motorcyclist until it was too late. Find ways to keep your mind, hands, and eyes on the task of driving.
- Look twice (or more). Motorcycles are smaller than cars, and drivers who are only looking for cars can easily fail to spot a bike. Watch roadways and intersections with the goal of spotting everything there, whether it’s a car, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian.
- Give motorcycles their space. Motorcycles need the entire width of the traffic lane, just like a car. Also, leave extra following distance between your car and a motorcycle ahead of you. Bikes can stop more quickly than cars, so you’ll need this extra distance to ensure you don’t rear-end the bike in a sudden emergency.
Motorcyclists can also help improve their chances of a safe ride by following tips like these:
- Wear your safety gear. A helmet is a must. Leather or Kevlar protective gear, boots, and gloves can also help you avoid injury.
- Make mastery of safety courses a point of pride. The Arizona Department of Transportation accepts certain safety course completions in lieu of the skills test for obtaining a motorcycle license or endorsement. AZDOT maintains a list of accepted courses. To hone your skills and improve your safety, consider taking advanced courses beyond those required for the license.
- Ride like other drivers won’t see you. Ride cautiously, watch carefully for other traffic, and always assume that other drivers will behave as if they do not see you coming. When in doubt, yield.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, an experienced Arizona personal injury lawyer can help you understand your legal options and pursue the compensation you deserve. Contact Folger Law today to learn more.