Arizona provides for great motorcycle riding opportunities year-round. Safety should be the first concern while enjoying our beautiful and scenic state.
Every year the Department of Public Safety (DPS) investigates many collisions involving motorcycles:
- 2015: 814 collisions investigated, 41 were fatal collisions
- 2016: 792 collisions investigated, 32 were fatal collisions
- 2017: Year to date 284 collisions investigated, 18 were fatal collisions.
A safe riding experience doesn’t just happen. Motorcyclists must do their part to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride.
- Always wear a helmet! A helmet can save your life if you are involved in a collision. In 2016, half of the motorcycle riders involved in a fatal collision were not wearing a helmet.
- Wear protective clothing such as gloves, boots, and long pants, to protect you in case of a collision. Road rash is painful!
- Wear eye protection. A bug, or road debris in your eye is not only painful but can lead to a collision and serious injuries.
- Drive defensively! Never assume that a car will see you. Almost two thirds of the collisions are caused by a driver not noticing a motorcycle. Watch out for them!
- Be visible. Use your headlight, even during daylight hours.
- Know your bike. Be familiar with the controls. Be familiar with how the bike operates.
- Take a motorcycle safety course. Before riding out onto the open road learn the rules and the safe operation of your bike.
- Plan your trip and know the road and weather conditions before you ride out.
- Make sure your bike is in top condition. Check the tires, brakes, oil, brake and clutch cables, and the chain/drive.
In 2016, the number one cause of motorcycle collisions was speed, followed closely by failing to remain within the proper lane and failing to yield right of way. Obeying Arizona traffic law is critical for a safe ride.
In addition to all the state traffic laws, Arizona has laws specific for motorcycles:
- ARS 28-903 has three parts. The first part lets motorists know they cannot deprive the use of a lane to a motorcycle. The second part is a motorcyclist shall not pass another vehicle in the same lane of traffic and the motorcyclist shall not split traffic lanes. The third is motorcyclists shall not ride more than two abreast in traffic.
- ARS 28-964 states that anyone younger than 18 years of age shall wear a helmet while on a motorcycle. It also requires that the motorcyclist wear glasses, goggles, or a transparent face shield while operating a motorcycle. It further addresses required equipment on a motorcycle such as a rear-view mirror and a secure seat and footrests for both driver and passenger.
- ARS 28-955.01 and 28-955.02 deal with the exhaust system and noise level of a motorcycle.
- ARS 28-892 states that the motorcycle shall have a seat for the driver and requires that there must be a seat for a passenger.
- ARS 28-924.B requires headlamps on a motorcycle
- ARS 28-3101 requires a motorcycle endorsement (Class M) to operate a motorcycle in the state.
Motorcycle safety is everyone’s business, not just motorcyclists. Of the 32-fatal motorcycle collision in 2016:
- 17 involved another vehicle
- 2 another motorcycle
- 13 were single motorcycle collision
Many collisions, or near collisions, can be avoided if motorcyclists and car drivers remember the following:
- Always check before changing lanes or turning. Consider the possibility that a car or motorcycle may be in your blind spot.
- Always use caution when passing.
- Always use a turn signal. Let traffic around you know what you are doing.
- Be extra vigilant at an intersection.
- When turning left, take an extra look before turning. Approximately 40% of motorcycle collisions are caused by a vehicle turning left in front of a motorcycle.
- Increase following distance. Do not tailgate. A motorcycle stops much faster than a car. Be aware of your surroundings and do not drive distracted. Driving a car or motorcycle requires full attention to be safe.
- Roads conditions that may to be a problem for a car can be a big problem for motorcycles. Do not follow too close and be prepared for the unexpected.
- Be courteous and remember that motorcycles and cars have the same right to be on the road.