Arizona, the 14th most populous state in the United States, has got three of the top five sunniest cities in the country within its territory. On average, Yuma, Phoenix, and Tucson get 85% to 90% of the possible sunshine every year. Warm, sunny days create a conducive atmosphere for motorcycle riders to go for long rides. But motorcycles, as a vehicle type, are not as protected as enclosed four-wheelers. American Courthouse brings an in-depth Arizona Motorcycle Accident Guide for our readers. This guide will explain all details about motorcycle accidents in Arizona and the legal aspect of it.
According to the latest data made available by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle riders face 28 times greater risks to die in a crash compared to passenger car riders. The exhilaration of cruising an open road on a motorcycle can become challenging and dangerous at times. It requires rapt attention, perfect balance, hand and leg coordination, and sound judgment throughout the ride. A momentary lapse in any one of these aspects may result in the loss of life.
A Deeper Look into Arizona Motorcycle Crashes
The Department of Transport in the state of Arizona publishes annual statistics on types of crashes that happen each year in the state. Let’s have a look at some of the figures to understand the nature and causes of these crashes, specifically for motorcycles.
In 2019, a total of 2,676 motorcycle crashes happened within the state of Arizona. Out of these crashes, 171 were fatal crashes. In 2,105 cases, the crashes resulted in injury, and in 400 cases the results were damages to the property. The Department of Transportation noted that motorcycle fatalities in Arizona increased steadily between 2015 and 2017 from 134 in a year to 161 in a year. Although it went down a bit in 2018 to 154, it rose again in 2019 to reach 170 fatalities.
Urban areas of Arizona witnessed a higher number of fatal crashes in 2019 compared to the rural areas. Out of 171 fatal crashes, 114 occurred in the urban areas. Rural areas had 57 cases.
The data also analyzed the primary reasons for these crashes. They termed it as the first harmful event. The analysis showed that collisions with other motor vehicles caused the maximum number of crashes, followed by overturning and collisions with fixed objects. Offering further insights, the data showed that 1,846 of the 2,676 accidents happened in daylight and 2,603 happened on dry roads.
Judging from all these insights, it is quite evident that motorcycle accidents happened in Arizona mostly under traffic conditions that were otherwise favorable for the rider. The accidents did not occur primarily because the lights were low or the roads were wet.
What can be derived from these insights is that motorcycle accidents happen in Arizona probably because of not following the rules, and not due to unsuitable road conditions. Keeping this observation in perspective, we would now look into some of the rules set by the Arizona State Legislature for riding on motorcycles.
Arizona State Rules on Motorcycle riding
- The first rule states that a motorcycle rider should only ride on the permanent and regular seat attached to the vehicle.
- According to the second rule, the operator of a motorcycle should not carry any other person and any other person should not ride on a motorcycle unless the motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person.
In cases where the motorcycle is designed for more than one person to ride, the second passenger may ride on the permanent and regular seat only if it is designed for two persons. Otherwise, the motorcycle needs to have another seat firmly attached to the motorcycle at the rear or side of the operator.
The Arizona State Legislature has also set some rules regarding how the laned roadways should be used when driving a motorcycle.
- All motorcycles are entitled to fully use a lane. No rider should drive a motorcycle in a way that blocks or deprives another motorcyclist of the full use of a lane.
- The motorcycle driver should not overtake a vehicle in the same lane.
- A motorcycle operator should not try to steer the vehicle between the lanes of traffic or adjacent rows of vehicles.
These rules are aimed at reducing motorcycle accidents on road. There are some additional set of rules regarding noise level management, usage of equipment, etc.
If the rules listed above pertain to on-road cautions that a rider should follow, there are some off-road guidelines to adhere to as well. These guidelines constitute a checklist that all motorcyclists in Arizona should consider before they put the key in the ignition.
- It is a must to have a Class M license to operate a motorcycle in Arizona.
- Anyone below the age of 18 must wear a helmet while riding on or driving a motorcycle.
- Glasses, goggles, or transparent face shields are a must in case the motorcycle does not have a protective windshield.
- Motorcycles must be equipped with a rearview mirror, footrests, and a seat.
- All motorcycles must have more than one and not less than two headlamps.
Despite taking all the necessary precautions, riders may face accidents on road. Therefore, the state of Arizona has made it mandatory to have auto liability insurance. This requirement includes motorcycles as well. In the following section, we will have a look at the minimum amounts of liability coverage as required for a motorcycle in Arizona.
Mandatory Auto Liability Insurance: Minimum Coverage Requirements
- The minimum liability coverage mandatory for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident is US$15,000.
- The minimum liability coverage for all persons harmed in an accident either in the form of total bodily injury or death is US$30,000.
- The minimum liability coverage for property damage per motorcycle accident is US$10,000.
Only, companies that are licensed to business in the state of Arizona are eligible to insure the vehicles.
Damages Available in a Motorcycle Accident in Arizona
In Motorcycle accident cases in Arizona, not being aware of the benefits an injured person is entitled to often leads to no claims made. But, there are damages, both economic and non-economic, that an injured man can claim in Arizona.
As evident from the terms themselves, the economic damage is something that can be measured and expressed in dollar value. The non-economic damages are losses that don’t have a clear dollar value. Types of economic damages include property damage, medical expenses, estimated future medical expenses, lost income, and other out of pocket costs. Types of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, and other types of non-monetary losses.
Apart from economic and non-economic, there is a third category known as punitive damage. Here, the defendants are punished in case the defendant’s behavior was found to be willfully negligent or outrageous. In Arizona, the state does not put a cap on personal injury damages and the plaintiff has a chance to recover damages no matter how large.
Penalties for Uninsured Vehicles
If a motorcycle operator fails to maintain the minimum liability coverage, the Arizona state authorities can either charge a fine or suspend the vehicle registration and/or driver’s license. Reinstating suspended registrations and canceled licenses is an expensive and time-consuming process. It’s even difficult to obtain a license or buy new insurance in some other state. Even though not having the proper documents could lead to severe penalties, it is estimated that 12% of the drivers in Arizona are uninsured.
The number of motorcycle fatalities in Arizona is on a rise. Apart from collisions with other vehicles and overturning, fatalities have also happened due to collisions with pedestrians, animals, or pedal cyclists. Some of the crashes have happened under the influence of alcohol. Many riders have violated lawful speed limits. Not wearing helmets has also made some of the clashes fatal.
It is immensely important that riders follow the rules and keep their motorcycles in sound condition. It’s also necessary to have the compliance and insurance papers in order so that damages can be claimed in case an accident could not be avoided.