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If you drive a motorcycle regularly, there are some risks you should be aware of. Those who operate these vehicles are four times more likely to be injured on the road. What’s worse, your chance of experiencing a fatal motorcycle accident is 28 times higher than it would be if you were driving a car. With this in mind, it’s important to know the most common causes of motorcycle accidents so you can take steps to protect yourself. The Arizona Department of Transportation releases an annual Motor Vehicle Crash Guide, which is where you’ll find these and other important statistics about motorcycle accidents.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents: Operator Violations

Unfortunately, the motorcycle driver is often to blame when it comes to traffic accidents. Everyone makes mistakes, but these practices are some of the major events our motorcycle accident lawyers in Phoenix have seen to ultimately lead to some type of collision with another vehicle.

1. Speeding

While many people make a habit of going at least five miles per hour over, you are technically breaking the law in Arizona if you drive anything faster than the posted speed limit. Arizona also has absolute speed limits:

  • You cannot exceed 65 miles per hour on a highway outside an urbanized area.
  • You cannot exceed 35 miles per hour on a motorcycle without proper headlights.

Cruising over the speed limit is tempting on a bike, but it can also be dangerous. Motorcycles are especially susceptible to accidents at higher speeds because they are more likely to tip over or lose control on uneven surfaces.

2. Failing To Stay in the Proper Lane

Many people love motorcycles because they are fast and economical — but also small and easy to maneuver. Your gasoline goes much further on a smaller machine, and getting in and out of tight spaces is easy, especially in crowded areas. Unfortunately, this makes it tempting to create your own personal lane in an effort to bypass traffic, a practice known as lane splitting, which is illegal in Arizona. Failing to stay in the designated lane is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents in this state.

3. Following Too Closely

The three-car rule is a commonly used term for calculating the appropriate distance between two moving cars. In general, there should be enough room for three cars the size of your vehicle to fit between you and the car in front. This allows ample time for your car to come to a complete stop, avoiding an accident. The same practice is recommended for motorcycle operators, but it is not always heeded. Driving much too close to other vehicles can lead to serious and fatal crashes.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents: Operator’s Physical Condition

When you operate any type of motor vehicle, you must be awake, alert, and of sound mind with sharp reflexes. Anything that impacts your overall physical condition can slow your response time and increase your risk of an accident.

4. Alcohol Use

Drinking alcohol is another one of the top causes of motorcycle and car accidents. Because access to this drug is so easy, many operators on the road often have some amount in their system. While there are certainly legal limits when it comes to blood alcohol content, a better guideline is gauging your own personal response to alcohol. If you feel even the slightest buzz, you shouldn’t be driving.

5. Recreational Drug Use

In 2021, many serious Maricopa County motorcycle accidents occurred because the operator was under the influence of some type of illegal drug. Much like alcohol, these chemical substances can cloud your judgment and lead to feelings of invincibility, which results in reckless and dangerous behavior.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents: Road Conditions

Many times, the cause of a vehicle accident is completely outside of your control. Some motorcycle crashes are the direct result of less-than-favorable road conditions.

6. Wet or Slick Road Surfaces

Rain or recent spills lead to wet patches of road that can be especially dangerous for motorcyclists. This significantly reduces the grip of the tire tread against the road, making it much too easy to slide your bike or lose control and end up in a serious accident. Wet roads are a leading issue when it comes to motorcycle crashes. Other natural debris on the road, such as mud, gravel, or sand, can also impact tire grip and was another major factor in recent motorcycle crashes.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents: Other Drivers

As a motorcycle operator, it’s your responsibility to learn the proper way to handle a bike, obey all traffic laws, and use safe driving practices. Even so, most motorcycle accidents are the result of other drivers. In 2021, 1,526 of these Arizona accidents were due to other vehicle operators; that’s 58% of the overall total for that year.

7. Negligent Behaviors

Distractions abound in today’s society, often leading to negligent driving. Behaviors such as operating a cell phone, eating, and wearing headphones distract drivers from what’s happening around them, making them negligent on the road. These practices are dangerous but common and can cause a motorcycle accident.

8. Traffic Violations

Another one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents is the failure of other drivers to abide by the rules of the road. Exceeding the speed limit, failing to yield, refusing to stop at red lights or stop signs, and passing in a no-pass zone are punishable offenses that break the law and put everyone else on the road at risk, including motorcyclists. When you are driving a motorcycle, never take for granted that other drivers are going to follow the rules.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents: Legal Help and Support

1,576 motorcycle crashes took place in Maricopa County in 2021. That’s a staggering number that resulted in 1,307 injuries and 95 fatalities. Even if you are a responsible driver, having a reputable legal team on your side is a good idea. While there are numerous and diverse causes of motorcycle accidents, our experienced team of Phoenix personal injury attorneys at Sargon Law Group can help with them all. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support and guide you after a crash.