Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes in Phoenix, Arizona

According to the Arizona Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Foundation (AMSAF), nearly 3,000 motorcycle crashes occur in the state each year. 

If you live or travel around Phoenix, AZ, it’s important to practice motorcycle safety every time you ride. This is one of the most scenic cities in the nation, which makes it immensely popular among motorcyclists hoping to catch a gorgeous desert view. 

By understanding the factors that are most likely to cause a collision, you can often prevent dangerous and even fatal accidents from occurring. Today, we’re taking a closer look at Arizona motorcycle laws and sharing the most common concerns to look out for. 

Understanding Arizona Motorcycle Laws

Knowing how to stay safe on your motorcycle in Phoenix starts with understanding your state’s motorcycle laws. The Arizona Department of Public Safety (ADPS) clearly outlines these laws and regulations on its website for current and prospective motorcyclists to review. 

In addition to following all of the state’s traffic laws, ADPS explains that motorcyclists should also pay close attention to laws that pertain specifically to them. These include:

  • ARS 28-903
  • ARS 28-964
  • ARS 28-955.01
  • 28-955.02 
  • ARS 28-892
  • ARS 28-924.B
  • ARS 28-3101

On their own, these state laws might not mean too much to you. That’s why it’s important to take a closer look! Here’s a high-level breakdown of what each law entails. 

ARS 28-903

There are three parts to ARS 28-903. The laws to know include:

  1. Motorists cannot deprive the use of a lane to a motorcycle.
  2. A motorcyclist cannot pass another vehicle in the same lane of traffic and cannot split traffic lanes
  3. Motorcyclists cannot ride more than two abreast while in traffic 

ARS 28-903

According to ARS 28-903, anyone younger than 18 years of age must wear a helmet any time they’re on a motorcycle. In addition, all motorcyclists must wear one of the following types of safety gear while operating a motorcycle:

  • Glasses
  • Goggles
  • Transparent face shield 

ARS 28-903 also explains the equipment and accessories that every motorcycle in Arizona must be outfitted with to be deemed safe on the road. These components include:

  • Rearview mirrors
  • Secure seat
  • Footrests for both the driver and passenger

ARS 28-955.01 and 28-955.02

ARS 28-955.01 dictates safe noise levels on a motorcycle, explaining that motorcyclists cannot use any type of muffler cutout or bypass. Likewise, ARS 28-955.02 sets standards around the maximum noise level allowed on motorcycles, depending on the make and model. 

ARS 28-892

Under ARS 28-892, all motorcycles should have a designated seat for the driver. In addition, there must also be a seat for the passenger. 

ARS 28-924.B

It’s critical to ensure proper illumination while riding your motorcycle at night. That’s why ARS 28-924.B requires that all motorcycles be outfitted with proper headlamps.

ARS 28-3101

To operate a motorcycle in Arizona, you must complete the proper prequalifications. According to AR 28-3101, all riders must obtain a motorcycle endorsement (Class M) before they can hit the open road. 

The Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes in Phoenix 

Understanding the law is only the first part of preventing a motorcycle accident in Phoenix. The next is knowing what types of dangers and risks exist on the roadways, and how to safely avoid them. Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes in this city. 

Drinking While Under the Influence

According to the latest data from the AMSAF, more than 165 motorcycle crashes that occur annually in Arizona involve a driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In all, that accounts for a little more than 5% of all collisions.

The ADPS explains that drivers who are 21 years old and over can receive a DUI charge if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level is 0.08% or higher. For drivers who are younger than 21, the BAC limit is 0.0%. 

The risk simply isn’t worth it. If you’re under the influence of any type of mind-altering substance, play it safe and call an Uber. 


The ADPS explains that the number-one cause of most motorcycle accidents in the state is speeding. Data from the AMSAF supports this fact, as 785 crashes that occur each year are due to the driver going too fast for the conditions, and more than 60 happen because the driver fails to adhere to the posted speed. 

Check the weather before you head out, and practice extra caution if the road is slick or frozen. While a majority of Phoenix motorcycle crashes happen in dry conditions, the AMSAF shows that nearly 90 occur on wet roadways. If the conditions could prove dangerous for a car, truck, or SUV, then they are even more dangerous for a motorcycle. 

To ensure a safe ride, pay close attention to the speed limit. Always drive defensively and with the flow of traffic, but check your speedometer often to ensure you’re not going too fast. 

Failing to Yield the Right of Way

Approximately 61 motorcycle crashes occur each year in Arizona because motorcyclists fail to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic. Remember to always check before entering a lane, changing lanes, or turning. 

Remember to consider the possibility that a car, motorcycle, or pedestrian could be in your blind spot. Give yourself time to double-check before proceeding with caution. If you’re turning left, use extra caution. 

The ADPS explains that approximately 40% of motorcycle collisions in Arizona are due to a vehicle turning left in front of a motorcycle. Take an extra look any time you need to turn that way and make sure no incoming traffic is heading in your direction. 

Following Too Closely

Following too closely is just as unsafe for motorcyclists as it is for motorists. The AMSAF reports that nearly 100 motorcycle crashes occur each year due to this simple error.

Tailgating won’t get you to your destination any quicker, so back off and allow a space the size of one vehicle to fit between you and the car in front of you. Remember that motorcycles can stop much quicker than vehicles can!

As you operate your vehicle, never assume that a car can see you. The ADPS explains that two-thirds of all motorcycle collisions are caused by a driver failing to notice a motorcycle. Following too closely can compound this risk, so remember to leave plenty of space. 

Running a Stop Sign

Any time you’re on your motorcycle, it’s critical to pay close attention to all of the traffic signs and lights around you. This includes stop signs.

If you’re riding at dusk or nighttime, make sure your headlamps are in proper working condition so they can illuminate the signage around you. It’s best to keep your lights on all of the time to ensure constant visibility. 

Disregarding Traffic Signals

Traffic signals are in place to keep you (and everyone else on the road) as safe as possible. Stay vigilant while operating your motorcycle and act by their guidelines. 

Likewise, remember to use your signal! By flipping on your turn signal any time you need to make a turn, you can help alert others on the road to your actions. 

Making an Improper Turn

The AMSAF explains that more than 50 motorcycle crashes occur each year due to a motorcyclist either making an improper turn or driving in the opposing lane.

Again, there are signs, markings, and signals designed to help you avoid these errors. Stay attuned to their presence and follow them accordingly. 

Passing in No-Passing Zone

Remember to always use caution when passing. You should remain diligent in a legal passing zone, and abide by the law in a no-passing zone. Remember that ARS 28-903 prohibits motorcyclists from passing another vehicle in the same lane of traffic. 


From the radio to a scenic outdoor sight, many things could threaten to take your attention away from the road. As with any driver, it’s essential to keep your eyes and focus on the road. Set your radio to your preferred channel before you set out, and pull over in a safe, designated viewing spot if you want to take in a sweeping vista. 

Using Faulty or Missing Equipment

The AMSAF report shows that 15 motorcycle collisions occur each year because drivers perform one of the following actions:

  • Knowingly drive their motorcycle with faulty equipment
  • Knowingly drive their motorcycle with missing equipment 
  • Fail to use required motorcycle safety equipment 

If you’re unsure which parts and accessories your motorcycle needs to stay safe, you can reference the ADPS website linked above. Check your tires, brakes, oil, cables, and chain regularly. 

In addition to making sure your motorcycle is properly outfitted, make sure you’re also using the right gear. In addition to the right clothing, never get on the road without a helmet.

Data from the ADPS shows that half of the motorcycle riders involved in a fatal collision in Arizona were not wearing a helmet. Once you have yours, it’s time to invest in a few other essentials to prevent road rash and ensure a safe, comfortable ride. These include:

  • Riding gloves
  • Motorcycle boots
  • Long pants

Seeking Legal Help After Motorcycle Crashes

Understanding how motorcycle crashes occur can help you stay safe any time you get on the road. Yet, the reality is that even with a robust knowledge of Arizona roadway laws, accidents can still occur.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident, a motorcycle lawyer can help. Our team at Sweet Law has the skills, experience, and reputation required to help you build your case and defend your rights.

To learn more about our services, contact us today for a free consultation. 

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