What Is the Main Cause of Arizona Motorcycle Accidents?

Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys
motorcycle accident causes

In a perfect world, motorcycle accidents would be 100% preventable, but unfortunately they do happen even to the safest and most experienced riders. However, there are still things you can do to protect yourself and lessen the chance of being injured. 

For instance, by identifying some of the most common motorcycle accident causes, you can boost the riding skills that will increase your chances of avoiding them. Further, to protect yourself legally in case of an accident, remember to enlist the help of Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys when you need a reputable Arizona motorcycle accident lawyer

Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Arizona

Pinning down exactly what causes motorcycle accidents—or any traffic accident, for that matter—can be tricky. Even the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), which houses one of the largest collections of crash data in the country, categorizes accidents not by causes, but by characteristics. One way to extrapolate (or at least guesstimate) what the top causes of accidents might be is to look at data sets regarding a crash’s first harmful event, the manner of collision, crash type, and other conditions noted by   

To do this, we queried data from the NHTSA’s Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST) and consulted the most recent Motor Vehicle Crash Facts reports released by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). Because the exact causes of motorcycle accidents can’t always be quantified, this list can more realistically be considered some of the most common characteristics and contributing factors to motorcycle accidents in Arizona.

Collisions with Other Vehicles

Although single-vehicle motorcycle accidents are common, the majority of accidents are caused by a collision with another moving vehicle. Between 2016 and 2020, ADOT found that the first harmful event in about 57.8% of all injury, non-injury, and fatal motorcycle accidents was a collision with another car, truck, or motorcycle. 

FIRST data from 2015 to 2019 regarding fatal motorcycle accidents was on par with ADOT’s figures, with about 55.4% of fatal accidents preceded by a motor vehicle collision. Of course, there are many different kinds of collisions. Narrowing down the most common types of collisions can give us a better sense of what actions may have led up to the crash. 

Between 2016 and 2020, the top manners of collision in motorcycle accidents were as follows:

top causes of motorcycle accidents
  • 32.4% of all collisions were rear-end accidents. Rear-end collisions are often associated with speeding, following too closely, or distracted driving
  • 25.5% of all collisions were left-turn accidents. Left-turn accidents usually occur when one motorist fails to yield the right of way to another vehicle.
  • 16.4% of all collisions were angle accidents. Angle accidents regularly involve one driver running a red light or stop sign.
  • 16.1% of all collisions were sideswipe accidents. Sideswipe accidents commonly happen when one motorist is changing lanes and either doesn’t check their mirrors or there is another vehicle in one of their blind spots.
  • 2.2% of all collisions were head-on accidents. Head-on accidents are often preceded by a driver who fails to stay in their lane or is driving the wrong way.

Driving Too Fast

Speeding is among the most common motorcycle accident causes. This includes not only exceeding the posted speed limit, but also driving too fast for current traffic or weather conditions. Between 2016 and 2020, ADOT found that 23.5% of all motorcyclists were speeding at the time of their accident. This doesn’t even account for the number of involved passenger cars or large trucks whose speeding may also have contributed to an accident. 

In addition, speeding is even more prevalent in crashes resulting in deaths. The NHTSA reported that between 2015 and 2019, speed was a factor in approximately 43.2% of fatal Arizona motorcycle crashes.


Motorcycles are much more likely to overturn or roll over than their four-wheeled counterparts. ADOT found that about 21.6% of all motorcycle accidents are caused by a motorcycle that overturned. Meanwhile, about 14.3% of all fatal crashes involved a motorcyclist whose bike overturned or rolled. 

Rollover crashes have a variety of causes. Because motorcycles have separate brakes for the front and rear wheels, braking hard or suddenly can cause the wheels to lock and the bike to overturn if it is not equipped with antilock brakes (ABS). Thus, many overturn crashes may be caused by a motorcyclist braking suddenly due to changes in traffic patterns, speeding, or even misjudgment of stopping distance. 

Collisions with Objects

causes of motorcycle accidents

Other vehicles aren’t the only collision hazards for motorcyclists. For just under 15% of all Arizona motorcycle accidents, the first harmful event leading up to the accident was a collision with a fixed or moving object. This includes striking guardrails, traffic barriers, curbs, ditches, embankments, fences, and trees. Additionally, the percentage of collisions with objects represents as many as 26.1% of all fatal motorcycle accidents.

Losing control of the motorcycle is very commonly associated with these kinds of collisions, specifically when negotiating a curve at a high rate of speed or when roads are slick. That being said, some motorcyclist collisions with objects may also be caused by swerving to avoid a collision with another vehicle. 

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious problem in Arizona. Alcohol-related crashes accounted for about 6.5% of all motorcycle accidents between 2016 and 2020 across the state—fairly low compared to a more common factor like driving too fast. 

But if you look at the number of fatal motorcycle accidents that involve alcohol, that percentage increases dramatically: at least 25.6% of deadly motorcycle crashes during the same time frame involved a motorcycle operator or another motorist who was drinking and driving

Getting Legal Help After a Motorcycle Accident

As with most traffic accidents, motorcycle accident causes aren’t always straightforward. There are many factors that can contribute to any motor vehicle crash—from individual choices like speeding and drunk driving to conditions outside of your control like bad weather and careless motorists. 

Regardless of how it happened, if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident you believe was caused by the negligence of another driver, it’s crucial that you have your case professionally reviewed by an experienced Arizona personal injury lawyer.You may be entitled to significant compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and additional damages. With dedicated legal representation on your side, you maximize your chances of obtaining the settlement you deserve.

To claim your free legal consultation, give Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys a call 24/7 at 602-977-1900. You can also connect online with one of our LiveChat agents standing by, or fill out this quick form to request your no obligation case evaluation. The call is free, the consultation is free, and there’s no fee unless we win your case.  

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.