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Motorcycle Safety:  How to keep safe your next ride. 

More and more motorcyclists are taking to U.S. roads, increasing the need for safety precautions.

Both riders and car drivers need to take steps to reduce the risk of motorcycle crashes, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association warn.

Arizona is know as the Grand Canyon State but Arizona has so much more to offer than access to this world famous “natural wonder of the world”.  The state offers motorcycle riders one of the most diverse scenery repertoires in all of America featuring lush forests full of wildlife, old cowboy towns, deserts full of cactus, mountain scenery, lakes, rivers and canyons.  Some well known destinations to the Arizona motorcycle rider include Jerome, Sedona, Flagstaff, Tucson, Payson, Yarnell and of course the Grand Canyon.

Epic locations to motorcycle ride in Arizona.

While it is fun getting out on the open road you always have to remember, safety comes first!

Motorcycle Safety Statistics according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • According to the data available from the Federal Highway Administration, there were 8.4 million private and commercial motorcycles on U.S. roads in 2013, compared with 8.0 million in 2009.
  • Over nine years from 2004 to 2013, fatalities among the 40-and-older age group increased by 39 percent, compared to 16 percent for all ages.
  • Motorcyclists were about 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled in 2013 and five times more likely to be injured.
  • The fatality rate per registered vehicle for motorcyclists in 2013 was six times the fatality rate for passenger car occupants.

Tips to become a Safer Rider:

Training Courses:

A motorcycle safety training course provides the essential skills, knowledge and behavior to be a proficient motorcycle operative. Consider taking a refresher course or a specialty riding course, even if you are an experienced rider, to make safety a lifelong priority.

TEAM Arizona Motorcycle Rider Training

TEAM Arizona Motorcycle Rider Training is a course that is open to anyone who has little to no motorcycling experience and wants a FUN, proven way to learn how to ride.  Once you complete the class you will be a trained and certified motorcycle rider and will not be required to complete the state administered motorcycle license tests for your motorcycle endorsement.

Personal Protective Gear:

Many activities and sports require protective gear.  Riding a motorcycle does too.  Even a low-speed fall can leave you scraped, brusied, or worse.  Crashing at higher speeds and hitting the ground or anothoer vehicle can be catastrophic.

Riding is more enjoyable when proper gear is used, and it can make a huge difference in a crash.  Quality riding gear helps keep you comfortable and focused, helps keep your body protected, and may help you be much more visible while in traffic.

You want to be seen by people driving in cars.  Your helmet and jacket should be brightly colored and have reflective material, especially if you decide to ride at night.  Consider clothing with body armor.  The right gear helps in all riding conditions.  In the event of a crash, it may reduce or prevent injuries.

Every rider and passenger should wear a quality helmet built for riding a motorcycle.  Added should be proper eye protection, sturdy over-the-ankle footwear with non-slip soles, long pants that will hold up in a slide, a good jacket, and full-fingered gloves

A helmet helps protect the head and brain from injury.  The critical importance of a helmet has been confirmed by laboratory tests and decades of crash studies.  Some myths about helmets might include:  they cause neck injury, block vision, or impair hearing.  The trust is helmets have been shown to reduce neck injuries because the helmet absorbs the initial impact, causing the neck to receive less force.  Under the U.S. Departments of Transportation standards, helmets are required to allow at least 105° of peripheral vision to each side.  Helmets do not impair hearing because they reduce wind and engine noise without affecting the ability to hear traffic.

A head injury is the primary cause of death for riders.  Even the best helmet is no gurantee against injury, but proper helmet use has been shown to reduce the risk of brain injury by 67 percent and the risk of death by 37 percent (U.S. Department of Transportation).

To view more safety tips visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s website or check out the Basic RiderCourse rider handbook.


As of May 2015

  Universal law Partial law (1)
Alabama X  
Alaska   17 and younger (2)
Arizona   17 and younger 
Arkansas   20 and younger
California X  
Colorado   17 and younger and their passengers 17 and younger
Connecticut   17 and younger
Delaware   18 and younger (3)
District of Columbia X  
Florida   20 and younger (4)
Georgia X  
Hawaii   17 and younger
Idaho   17 and younger 
Indiana   17 and younger 
Kansas   17 and younger 
Kentucky   20 and younger  (4), (5) 
Louisiana X  
Maine   17 and younger (5)
Maryland X  
Massachusetts X  
Michigan   20 and younger (6)
Minnesota   17 and younger (5)
Mississippi X  
Missouri X  
Montana   17 and younger 
Nebraska X  
Nevada X  
New Hampshire    
New Jersey X  
New Mexico   17 and younger 
New York X  
North Carolina X  
North Dakota   17 and younger (7)
Ohio   17 and younger (8)
Oklahoma   17 and younger 
Oregon X  
Pennsylvania   20 and younger (9)
Rhode Island   20 and younger (9)
South Carolina   20  and younger
South Dakota   17 and younger
Tennessee X  
Texas   20 and younger (4)
Utah   17 and younger 
Vermont X  
Virginia X  
Washington X  
West Virginia X  
Wisconsin   17 and younger (5)
Wyoming   17 and younger 

Choose or purchase a motorcycle with anti-lock brakes:

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an antilock braking system (ABS) prevents the wheels from locking up when braking, reducing the risk of a fatal motorcycle crash by 31%.

Before each ride, do a quick walk-around to make sure your lights, horn, and directional signals are working properly. Check the chain, belt, or shaft and the brakes. And inspect the tires for wear and make sure they are set at the proper pressure. Motorcycle mechanics often say they routinely see worn-out brakes and improperly inflated tires that greatly increase safety risks. When tires are under-inflated handling gets really hard, steering gets hard, and the bike does not want to lean.

Be defensive. A recent study by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research found that in collisions involving a motorcycle and a car, car drivers were at fault 60 percent of the time. So, you need to be extra alert, especially in this age of epidemic phone use and texting behind the wheel. Keep an eye out for cars suddenly changing lanes or pulling out from side streets. And don’t tailgate; keeping a safe following distance is critical, both to ensure you have enough stopping distance and so you have time to react to obstacles in the road. An object that a car might easily straddle could be a serious hazard when on a bike.

Avoid bad weather. Slippery conditions reduce your margin for error. Rain not only cuts your visibility but reduces your tires’ grip on the road, which can make cornering tricky. If you need to ride in the rain, remember that the most dangerous time is right after precipitation begins, as the water can cause oil residue to rise to the top. And avoid making sudden maneuvers. Be especially gentle with the brakes, throttle, and steering to avoid sliding. When riding in strong side winds, be proactive in anticipating the potential push from the side by moving to the side of the lane the wind is coming from. This will give you some leeway in the lane, should a gust nudge you.

Remember these tips!

  • If you are distracted while driving a car, pull over in a safe area and deal with the matter.
  • New motorcyclists should take a safety training course, and experienced riders should take refresher courses.
  • Always wear a helmet that is Department of Transportation approved, fits securely to your head shape and size, protects the face, and has adequate ventilation to keep you cool and reduce visor fogging.
  • It is best to have a motorcycle with anti-lock brakes, which prevents the wheels from locking up when braking. This reduces the risk of a fatal motorcycle crash by 31 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
  • Try to avoid riding in bad weather. Slick roads can make turning and braking more difficult.
  • Wearing high-visibility protective gear — including jackets, pants, boots and gloves — will make it easier for drivers to see you from a greater distance and in poor weather.
  • Always adhere to the speed limit, obey traffic laws and never ride after drinking.

Sometimes even after you follow all of these tips accidents/crashes happen.  Our surgeons at Sonoran Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeons have seen many motorcycle accidents resulting in simple fractures, compound fractures, impalments and much more.  Dr. Laura Prokuski, an Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon with over 20 years experience explains, “Motorcycle and safety cannot exist together. Motorcyclists lose every time no matter what magical garments they are wearing. You are just too exposed and too unrestrained. I have seen people decapitated, wishboned, impaled, and multilated in unfathomable ways to the uninitiated in health care”.

Sonoran Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeons is an Orthopedic Surgery practice dedicated solely to the treatment of complex fractures. All of our surgeons are fellowship trained in orthopedic trauma. All of our surgeons were trained at the leading orthopedic residencies and trauma fellowships in the United States, and have completed international fellowships as well. Our surgeons attend and lecture at both local and national meetings and courses related to orthopedic trauma, and actively publish scientific and educational literature in their specialty.

We firmly believe that orthopedic trauma is a sub-specialty that requires expertise and dedication to manage complex injuries of the Clavicle, Shoulder, Humerus (Upper Arm), Ulna (Lower Arm), Radius (Lower Arm), Pelvis, Hip, Femur (Upper Leg), Fibula (Lower Leg), Tibia (Lower Leg), Knee, Wrist, Ankle and Foot. It is our objective to establish a world class center for excellence here in Scottsdale and the Phoenix metro area; our staff is proud to serve the Arizona public.

Trauma is a life changing event that is devastating for the individual and for society. We are passionate about our role in the management of the traumatized patient. If you or a loved one has suffered a major orthopedic trauma, please call our office to arrange a transfer to our facility or for a consultation if you are an outpatient.

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