Motorcycle fatalities and injuries rise in Arizona

Accident statistics for 2012, released by the Arizona Department of Transportation during the first week of June, show a slight decrease in the number of people who died in Arizona motor vehicle crashes, from 827 in 2011 to 823 in 2012. Similarly, the number people who were injured in motor vehicle crashes declined slightly from 49,710 to 49,680.

The numbers who died in motorcycle accidents within the Grand Canyon State, however, increased 5.3 percent, from 132 in 2011 to 139 in 2012. Those injured in such biker crashes similarly increased over 6 percent, from 2,562 to 2,717.

National figures show even greater jump

Arizona's fatality figures are not as bad as the national average. Nationwide motorcycle fatalities jumped 9 percent in 2012, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

ADOT's director nevertheless acknowledged that there is work to be done. He expects more attention to be paid to motorcycle safety in the coming year, according to a new release posted on azdot.gov. He also urged all motorcyclists "to seriously consider [taking] safety-training courses" and reminded all drivers "to increase their awareness when sharing the road with motorcycle riders."

Will Arizona adopt a universal helmet use law?

Arizona is one of 31 states that lack a universal helmet use law. Currently, only riders under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet. The adoption of such a law, however, has been recognized as the most effective strategy for reducing motorcycle deaths and injuries.

For example, on June 12 a motorcycle rider traveling northbound on Country Club Road in Mesa collided with the rear of a van, also headed north. According to News Zap, a police officer administered CPR to the 39-year-old male rider, who appeared to have significant head trauma from not wearing a helmet. Mesa Fire units responding to the accident continued life-saving measures for several minutes, but the rider was pronounced dead at the scene.

If the rider had been wearing a helmet, his chances of survival may have been greater. This accident raises the issue of a universal helmet use law and whether the freedom of the motorcyclist to choose not to wear a helmet is outweighed by the costs to society of increased fatalities and serious head and brain injuries.

Arizona drivers must become more aware of motorcyclists

Despite the ADOT director's advice, some Arizona drivers have a hard time sharing the road with bikers, even when they wear a police uniform. On June 23, a Tempe police officer astride his motorcycle near the intersection of Rural and University was thrown from his bike when a taxi cab made an illegal U-turn and struck the officer's motorcycle. According to azfamily.com, police reported that the officer was a little incoherent when rescue units arrived, and was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

The taxi driver was issued two civil traffic citations and released. The accident remains under investigation, although police do not believe either alcohol or drugs were factor in the crash.

As can be seen from the recent incidents described above, motorcycle crashes can cause death or serious injuries to their riders. If you are injured or lose a loved one in a motorcycle crash, you should contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, who can obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries or loss.