Every year, thousands of motorcyclists suffer life-changing injuries in preventable traffic accidents. According to data from the Arizona Department of Transportation, 2,206 motorcyclists were injured and 160 were killed in collisions in 2021 alone. Motor vehicle drivers in Arizona can take certain steps to reduce the risk of hitting motorcyclists while on the freeway and in general. Below are five top safety tips for drivers to better protect these vulnerable road users.
The adage, “Check twice for motorcycles” is a useful one to keep in mind as a motor vehicle driver in Arizona. Motorcycles are small and easy to miss on the freeway, especially in conditions such as rain, fog or nighttime. If you aren’t checking carefully enough for motorcycles, you may not see them until you’ve already hit someone. Pay special attention at intersections and while turning left, as well as while changing lanes or merging on the freeway. Checking twice could help you prevent a motorcycle accident.
Using your turn signals is a good rule of thumb in general but can be especially helpful around motorcycles. When you use your turn signal, nearby motorcyclists can prepare themselves for the maneuver you are about to make, such as switching lanes or merging. Without a turn signal, your movements may be difficult to predict, taking away the motorcyclist’s ability to prepare for your actions and take steps to avoid an accident.
It is also important to understand the hand signals that motorcyclists often use. If a motorcycle does not have turn signals, a motorcyclist may use hand signals (similar to bicyclists). These signals include the motorcyclist’s left arm out to signal a left turn and the left arm bent at a 90-degree angle to signal a right turn. Knowing these signals can help you determine where a motorcyclist is about to go.
Rear-end collisions are especially dangerous to motorcyclists. An accident that may only cause minor injury to a motorist could be catastrophic for a motorcyclist. Do your part to prevent rear-end collisions by increasing your following distance when driving behind a motorcycle. Do not tailgate or drive too closely behind a motorcycle on the freeway. Keep your distance and allow extra space. You never know when the motorcyclist may need to make an evasive maneuver to avoid a road hazard or someone merging on top of them. Leaving ample room reduces the risk of crashing into the back of the motorcycle.
Lane-change accidents due to blind spots are common on the freeway. It is even easier for a driver to miss a motorcycle than a full-sized vehicle when changing lanes. Before you switch lanes on a freeway, be aware of your blind spots. Check your mirrors to see if there is a motorcyclist in the destination lane. However, do not rely on your mirrors alone, as motorcycles can easily be concealed in your vehicle’s blind spots. Look over your shoulder – and check twice – before changing lanes, as well.
Distracted driving takes lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 people lost their lives due to distracted driving in a single year. Many of these victims were motorcyclists and bicyclists. Distracted driving increases the odds of a driver failing to see a motorcyclist on the freeway and causing an accident.
All drivers should dedicate 100 percent of their attention to the road and the driving task. Texting while driving, eating or drinking behind the wheel, chatting with passengers, personal grooming, and other behaviors while driving can lead to a motorcycle crash on the freeway. A Phoenix motorcycle accident lawyer can help you assess your legal options following a collision. Contact an attorney at Stone Rose Law for a free consultation about your rights.