So, you want to buy a motorcycle. For many people, the joy of riding a motorcycle along a scenic highway just cannot be matched by any other vehicle. Arizona is one of the best places in the country for long motorcycle rides, with year round warmth, mostly dry weather, and some of the most beautiful scenery around. Arizona roads are constantly mentioned as favorite places to ride by both professional media organizations and individual riders on online forums.
Rider Magazine listed the original Route 66, running 90 miles from Seligman to Kingman, as one of their top bucket list rides. Monimoto called the Monument Valley Road, running 172 miles from Flagstaff to Oljato-Monument Valley, “one of the most iconic motorcycle rides in the country.”
If you’re ready to set out on your own motorcycle, here is everything you need to know about riding in Arizona, and anywhere else, from the Phoenix motorcycle accident attorneys at Plattner Verderame, PC.
Riding in Arizona – getting your ducks in a row
In order to legally drive a motorcycle in the state of Arizona, you must either have a motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement on your standard driver’s license. A motorcycle driver must be over the age of 16, but if you are under 18 you must have held an instruction permit for at least six months and complete a motorcycle driver education program OR have a parent or legal guardian certify that you have completed at 30 hours of motorcycle riding practice in order to obtain a license or endorsement.
Once your motorcycle license/endorsement application is complete, you must complete a written test and a motorcycle skills test. The skills test will require you to complete a 10-to-15-minute demonstration of your driving skills on an off-street, closed track. More information as well as instruction manuals for both the written and skills test can be found on the Arizona Department of Transportation website.
Motorcycle safety is key
Although riding a motorcycle can be thrilling, it is also inherently dangerous, and a rider who chooses to ignore the dangerous elements may find him or herself with serious injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 5,579 motorcyclists died in 2020 and that motorcycle riders are 28 times more likely to die in a crash than passengers in a vehicle. And even in a non-fatal crash, a motorcycle rider can be severely injured, sometimes significantly enough to affect the rest of their lives. The most common motorcycle injuries are bone fractures, road rash, and head injuries. A traumatic brain injury due to a motorcycle crash can lead to permanent brain damage or paralysis.
It is important to remember that in a crash, a motorcycle driver does not have the safety features of a car, like a metal frame, airbags and seatbelts, and an incident that could be a simple fender bender in a car could be catastrophic on a motorcycle. The best safety feature a motorcycle rider can give him or herself is wearing a helmet. Helmets are not legally required for anyone over the age of 18 in the state of Arizona, but they are absolutely vital to keep riders safe and should always be worn. According to the NHTSA, 40% of those killed in a motorcycle crash were not wearing helmets in 2020.
Some other safety tips offered by the Arizona Department of Public Safety are:
- Wear protective clothing like gloves, boots, and long pants to protect against road rash in the case of being thrown off your bike
- Wear eye protection
- Never assume a car sees you on your motorcycle – almost two thirds of motorcycle accidents involving a car were due to the car’s driver not seeing the motorcycle
- Be visible
- Be familiar with your specific motorcycle and how it operates
- Take a motorcycle safety course
- Be familiar with the road you’re driving and watch for weather conditions
- Always be sure your bike is well maintained and safe to be driving, including tires, brakes, oil, brake and clutch cables, and the chain/drive
And remember, motorcycle drivers are subject to the same traffic laws as vehicle drivers – including speed limits, stopping at red lights and signs, and staying in the proper lane.
What should I do if I’m injured in a motorcycle accident?
While it would be nice to think that all the safety tips above would lead to zero motorcycle accidents, we know that this is not reality and accidents will continue to happen. We also know that the aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be life changing. A person injured in a motorcycle accident, or the loved ones of a person killed in an accident, will need a good lawyer on their side to be sure the most compensation available is granted to them.
But in the immediate moments after a crash, there are some things you should do if you physically can:
- Call 9-1-1. Motorcycle riders often suffer severe injuries, and getting medical attention as quickly as possible may be the difference between surviving or not. Plus, calling 9-1-1 also alerts law enforcement, and you will want a police report of the incident.
- Take photos. Get pictures of your bike, your helmet, the road, the other vehicle, and your injuries. If you cannot take the photos yourself, ask the EMS team to take them for you. These photos may prove helpful later when you show an insurance company (or a jury) just how much damage the crash caused.
- PS: keep that helmet, even if it’s destroyed. If it turns out there’s a defect in the helmet that causes you to sustain further harm, you may have a product liability claim on your hands.
- Call a lawyer. Insurance companies don’t want to pay out claims – ever. They are notorious for offering lowball settlements, even when your injuries are truly life-altering. It is worth it to speak with an experienced Phoenix injury lawyer about your options moving forward.
A good lawyer will be comfortable negotiating with insurance agencies and knowing when it’s time to take your case to a jury. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Phoenix, Tempe, or anywhere in Arizona, call Plattner Verderame, PC, at 602-266-2002, or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation today.
I have been active in leadership in the Arizona Association for Justice (lawyers who represent injured folks, and formerly known as the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) since 1985. I served as President in 1991. I was an active participant in battles to protect the Arizona Constitution from the insurance industry and big business interests in 1986, 1990 and 1994.
Read more about Richard Plattner