Riding a motorcycle in Phoenix can be amazing. It is relatively cost-effective, can make parking a breeze, and can be very fun at the same time. Unfortunately, though, bikers continue to face serious risks every time they get on a motorcycle and enter a public roadway – even if that biker does not do anything wrong while riding. While the risks are not unique to Arizona riders, they can be more apparent here due to the crowded nature of our roads and expressways, the number of drivers who are unfamiliar with where they are driving, and the high number of bikers in the Valley.
Data gathered by the Insurance Information Institute sheds light on some of the more startling statistics related to biking in America. Based on 2014 numbers, the Insurance Information Institute reports that bikers are 27 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per mile traveled and almost five times more likely to be injured.
Some of the reasons behind these discrepancies are agreed upon readily by experts while others continue to be hotly debated. It is critical that all adults who use the roadways, including those that do not ride, understand as much about motorcycle safety as possible so that motorcycle accidents can be greatly reduced, if not eliminated in their entirety.
Motorcycles pose some inherent risks that are not present, or are less present, than those posed by a passenger vehicle. While a car may have safety features like seat belts and airbags, a motorcycle has none of those similar features to keep a rider safe in the event of an impact. This means that the force experienced in a crash is more likely to be felt by the rider than a similar impact would be to the driver of a car. In a similar vein, a biker is likely to be ejected from his motorcycle when a crash happens and an ejection often leads to a secondary impact between a biker’s body and the roadway, a striking car, other fixed object.
The optional use of helmets is another factor that is believed to cause disproportionate injury and fatality results among bikers. While passengers and drivers in a car are required to use seat belts in almost all jurisdictions, bikers enjoy a greater freedom when it comes to whether or not they wear a helmet. Often, a helmet is the only safety feature that keeps a biker from feeling the full brunt of a crash. Those who choose not to wear a helmet are injured at a much higher rate than those who do. Estimates indicate that helmet use saved 1,669 lives in 2014 and they are believed to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries among bikers. Nationally, motorcycle helmet use has risen in recent years though local fluctuations mean that many areas have seen a decrease in use but hovers around 64 percent as of 2014.
Other factors are beyond the control of a biker and yet still threaten their safety and their health. Their small size and relatively fast speed mean that motorcycles are less likely to be noticed than a larger passenger vehicle, leading to a situation where the driver of a car may ignore a biker and place themselves at risk for a crash. This is common where one or more vehicles are merging, where a vehicle is changing lanes, or at an intersection where a motorist is turning.
Speed and alcohol play a role in a large number of motorcycle accidents and can be a factor on the part of a biker or on the part of another driver involved. It is illegal in Arizona to drink and drive and being involved in a drunk driving motorcycle accident can lead to stiff penalties and punishments, including incarceration. Regardless of what type of vehicle you operate, make sure you never hit the streets after drinking and instead opt to use a designated driver, a ride share, or public transportation.
To improve your safety and the safety of those around you, recognize the rights of bikers and the dangers they face and do your part to drive with care and caution, limiting the negative interactions that happen on Phoenix roadways.
Prior Blog Entry:
Picking Up the Pieces after Phoenix’s Dust Storm, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published August 22, 2016.
Motorcycle Crashes, Insurance Information Institute, published August 2016.