Motorcycle Safety and Sharing the Road
By: Paul D. Friedman – Certified in Injury & Wrongful Death Litigation by the State Bar of Arizona and the National Board of Trial Advocacy
Like pedestrians and cyclists, motorcycle riders are among the most vulnerable to serious injuries from automobile collisions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle crashes accounted for 14 percent of all traffic deaths across the country in 2010, and since the mid-1990s, the number of motorcycle crashes has increased by more than 50 percent. As these numbers continue to rise, motorists must be conscious of the potential dangers on our Arizona roads and highways.
Based on these statistics, Arizona continues to encourage motorcyclists to wear helmets and protective gear, and for motorcycle riders and drivers to navigate our roads safely, obey traffic laws and speed limits, avoid distractions, and watch out for each other on our Arizona roadways.
Protect Yourself by Wearing the Right Gear
Experienced motorcycle riders will agree that the five most essential pieces of riding gear are your helmet, jacket, gloves, eyewear, and boots. Wearing all the proper motorcycle safety gear can help protect you from the most serious injuries.
A properly fitting helmet is the most important component of your gear. Choose one that is durable and protective, and make sure to replace your helmet at least every 5 years.
We instinctively use our hands to prevent ourselves from falling, so protecting our hand’s bones, joints and ligaments is essential. Well-padded gloves will protect your hands from injury from a fall, and can also help prevent numbness during long rides. Riders should invest in a pair of well-fitting, sturdy, and durable leather gloves that allow adequate ventilation to prevent sweating and ensure a safe grip. A good pair of gloves will be snug, but flexible, and will tighten easily at the wrist.
Riders should invest in a well-fitting, high quality and durable motorcycle jacket. The jacket should be snug, and provide you with protection from the elements and from injury in the event of a crash. Make sure your jacket has proper ventilation, and adequate padding in high impact areas, such as the shoulders and elbows to help prevent burns and abrasions in the event of a fall. Many motorcycle jackets also come with reflective gear to offer additional safety during night rides.
If you are not riding with a full-face helmet, consider wearing foam rimmed goggles to protect your eyes from the sun and dirt and debris in the air. Make sure that you have both daytime and nighttime eyewear and that your glasses are comfortable, fit well within your helmet, and provide you with good range of peripheral vision.
A solid pair of comfortable and high quality leather boots offer motorcycle riders the support and protection they need on the road. Leather holds up well in most kinds of weather, but also make sure you invest in pair of boots that have a thick tread for traction and soles that can withstand heat.
COMMON CAUSES OF MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS
Excessive speed is one of the leading causes of most motorcycle crashes and is a significant factor to collisions that result in severe injuries. Motorists often fail to see a speeding motorcycle until it is too late to avoid a crash.
Driving Under the Influence
Diving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is another common cause of collisions between vehicles and motorcycles. According to NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, 25% of the 2016 motorcycle crash deaths were related to drivers who were alcohol impaired.
Lane splitting, or riding a motorcycle between 2 lanes of traffic, is illegal in Arizona. Per Section 29-903 of the Arizona Revised Statutes states that no motorcyclist shall “overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle overtaken.” It also prohibits operating a motorcycle between the lanes of traffic or between two adjacent rows of vehicles. In other words, no motorcyclist shall use the same lane or the space between lanes to pass other vehicles – no lane-splitting. The only time the state of Arizona permits motorcycle lane-splitting is if the motorcyclist is a peace officer performing official duties.
Avoid Being “Doored”
Arizona has a law that helps protects motorcycles from the threat of getting injured by a car door opening in their path, but one of the more common accidents motorcyclists face is the hazard of getting car “doored.” When a motorcycle is doored, the rider can be seriously injured by hitting an open car door, or they can be launched from their bike into the air or into traffic.
Arizona Laws 28-905. Opening vehicle door
A person shall not open a door on a motor vehicle unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic. A person shall not leave a door open on a side of a motor vehicle exposed to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload a passenger.
Left Turn Accidents
Automobile drivers often misjudge the distance of an oncoming vehicle when turning left. When the oncoming vehicle is a motorcycle, the small size of the bike makes it even less visible. These kinds of errors in judgment lead to the injury and death of hundreds of motorcycle riders every year.
Tailgating, or following a vehicle too closely, is another major cause of accidents for all types of vehicles, including motorcycles. While a rear-end car accident often leads to minor damage for a car, a rear-end accident involving a motorcycle can cause serious injuries if the rider is ejected from the bike. Avoiding excessive speeds, focusing on the road, and maintaining a safe distance between your motorcycle and the vehicle in front of you is the best way to avoid a collision.
Inclement weather of any kind can limit visibility and create treacherous and dangerous road conditions. When a rider is traveling during less than ideal weather conditions on a road with sharp curves, busy intersections, uneven surfaces, these issues on top of poor visibility can lead to accidents.
Riding on Dangerous Road Conditions
Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to unsafe road conditions than other vehicle drivers. Poorly maintained roads, uneven pavement, potholes, random objects, or the sudden appearance of wildlife on the roadway can cause a rider to lose their balance and crash.
A motorcycle’s mechanical failure can also cause an accident. If it is determined that the manufacturer is responsible for a poorly designed motorcycle part, the manufacturer can be held liable for the riders injuries that occurred as a result of a defective part.
If You Have Been in a Motorcycle Accident
If you were injured in a motorcycle crash, you should take immediate steps to protect yourself. After your wreck:
- Seek medical care—even if you think you are not injured
- Call the police and report the accident
- Obtain contact information from the other driver and the witnesses
- Take photographs of the scene of the accident and your injuries
- Contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible
ARIZONA MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS AT BURG SIMPSON
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. Burg Simpson has been helping clients who were injured in motorcycle crashes for more than 40 years. Contact the highly skilled and experienced motorcycle accident attorneys in Arizona at Burg Simpson to arrange for a free consultation and case analysis today. We can help. Call (602) 777-7000
Schedule a Free Consultation Today
Call Burg Simpson now at (602) 777-7000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your personal injury matter. We are here to help you today.
Call Paul D. Friedman
Paul practices in the areas of significant personal injury, wrongful death, ethics and professional malpractice. He previously served as an Adjunct Professor of Medical and Research Ethics at Midwestern University and the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine where he instructed health care providers and graduate students in the medical field. Additionally, he authored the manual and taught attorneys and forensic experts in the Certified Forensic Consultant® program with the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute.
Paul graduated from the University of Arizona in 1985 (Bachelor of Arts with High Distinction), where he was admitted to the academic honorary society Phi Beta Kappa. He graduated from California Western School of Law in 1989 (Juris Doctorate Cum Laude). He served as an editor of the California Western Law Review-International Law Journal and was the chief editor of the California Western Directory. He received a post-doctoral master’s degree in bioethics in 2004 (Master of Arts in Bioethics), where he graduated with the Outstanding Achievement Award from the College of Health Sciences at Midwestern University and Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. Paul received a doctorate in philosophy involving business, legal and medical ethics at LaCrosse University (2006).