Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents Every Driver Should Know About

With the sense of freedom and adventure that comes with riding a motorcycle through the scenic roads of Arizona, it’s no surprise that our state has such a large motorcyclist population. In fact, there are more than 250,000 registered motorcycle riders in Arizona, and this number only continues to grow.

Unfortunately, the number of motorcycle-related accidents is growing too. To stay safe on the road, here are some of the top causes of motorcycle crashes you need to know—whether you’re operating a motorcycle or motor vehicle.

Top Causes: By Drivers

Left turns & failure to yield

Whether due to driving distractions or the misjudgement of a motorcycle’s speed, drivers may turn left in front of or into the path of a motorcyclist. These accidents can be fatal for the cyclist and they happen at an alarming rate. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42% of motorcycle crashes with another vehicle involved a left-hand turn. 

Lane changing

Compared to a car, motorcycles are small vehicles, and they can easily get lost in a driver’s blind spot. This means that when the driver goes to change lanes, they could potentially push the motorcyclist off the road or into incoming traffic. 

Other roadway threats

From sudden stops to roadway litter, many roadway threats are minor inconveniences to motor vehicle drivers. But they can be dangerous, and even fatal, to motorcycle riders because they are so exposed. For example, if a driver threw their trash out the window, it may harmlessly bounce off another vehicle’s windshield. It’d be a different story if the trash hits a motorcyclist’s face.  

Top Causes: By Bikers

Alcohol use

Driving under the influence of alcohol can be fatal no matter what kind of vehicle you’re operating, but motorcyclists seem to be at even greater risk. The NHTSA states that motorcyclists had the highest percentage of drunk drivers compared to operators of other vehicles in 2021. 


Many motorcycle riders love to drive fast, but this can easily lead to crashes resulting in injury, or worse. At normal speeds, motorcyclists are already in a more vulnerable position due to the lack of structural support a car offers. When you add in extreme speeds, the results can be fatal. 

Lane splitting

Common during periods of high traffic, lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist drives in between two lanes. This can cause a number of different problems, such as more difficulty maneuvering the motorcycle or reacting to unexpected driver behavior. Lane splitting is so dangerous that it’s regulated or fully prohibited in most states. In Arizona, for example, a “lane filter” law recently went into effect. This new legislation allows two-wheeled motorcycles to pass stopped vehicles going in the same direction under these conditions:

  • The posted speed limit is not above 45 mph
  • The motorcycle is not going faster than 15 mph when filtering
  • The vehicles are stopped
  • The street is divided into two adjacent lanes going the same direction


Operating a motorcycle calls for a different set of skills than driving a car, which is why all states require some form of motorcycle license to supplement your standard driver’s license. Despite the importance of being properly licensed, 36% of riders involved in fatal accidents in 2020 did not have a valid license. 

Stay Safe With These Tips

You’re bound to see a biker when you’re out on Arizona’s roads. To avoid an accident, follow these safety tips for drivers.

    • Be aware of blindspots: Before turning or changing lanes, check all of your mirrors and turn your head to lower the chances of hitting a motorcyclist in your blindspots.
  • Don’t tailgate: Motorcyclists need to be extra cautious of dangerous road conditions, such as road debris, so you should leave plenty of space for them to make any necessary maneuvers. 
  • Use your turn signals: You should always be on the look out for motorcyclists, but you may not see them. Using your turn signals gives the cyclist time to prepare for your next move.

Drivers and motorcyclists have a responsibility to follow safe driving practices, and we’re here to help with our defensive driving and driver’s education courses. Contact us today to learn more about which course is right for you.