City of Phoenix Motorcycle Collision Study 2018

September 12, 2018 Tags: , , , ,



To learn more about the motorcycle crash study performed by the City of Phoenix, we started our interview at the City Hall.

My name is Mike Vellotti and I ride a 2013 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail. It actually was my Dad’s. He died a couple years ago and so I brought it back from New York here to Phoenix and I’ve been enjoying it ever since. It is an amazing bike.

So you come from a family of riders?

I do, yeah.

Very cool.

What is your role specifically with the City of Phoenix?

My title is neighborhood parking and traffic specialist. What I do is work with communities and neighborhoods that are dealing with speeding through their neighborhoods and help with speed humps, cushions, and help educate communities on that process. So that’s kinda what I do day-to-day, and then the motorcycle summary is just something I helped work on.

We’re interested in that summary. Can you tell us a little bit more about that project?

I’m not the one who did the summary. We have a very vibrant neighborhood safety team that compiles collision data and analyzes that data. When I joined the street department, our main safety analyst Rick Russ approached me and said, “Hey, I know you’re a rider, I see you riding your motorcycle in every day. Will you help me build some momentum and get this summary in front of riders. And get this summary in front of the community that can benefit the most from it.”

Well it is important. Every cause needs a head, every cause needs the tip of the spear and that’s you in this case. That’s great. We really appreciate you getting behind this. Obviously at TEAM Arizona motorcycle rider safety is extremely important and the more data, the more information we have, the better we can be at disseminating information about how to be safe.

What will you be doing with the information gleaned from that project?

We’re developing just a snapshot, kind of a consolidated, kind of like a handout, kind of like a leaflet brochure. We’re just going to take this pamphlet and kind of get this information out to the riding community and the driving community. So our intent is to take this to motorcycle shops, you know, repair shops, get it to public places, safety events, so that we can really get this data in front of the riders who need it the most.

In the study, it says riders are most vulnerable at a particular location on the roadway. Can you talk to us about that location?

The study shows that 56% of motorcycle crashes occur mid-block. Which essentially is just a segment of road that is not a signalized intersection or a stop sign controlled intersection. That stretch of road could have front facing homes with driveways, it could possibly have alleyway entrances or exits, but really just a regular type of street. 56% of the time is where these crashes are happening.

We really want to find and identify ways to minimize that risk and that vulnerability and help riders make wise decisions on where they’re riding in the road.

Another really vulnerable place that the data showed, 41% of the time that a motorcycle gets hit by a vehicle, the vehicle is making a left hand turn into the motorcycle. This would probably be at an intersection and this would be vehicles failing to yield to a motorcycle as they’re riding through an intersection. Lane choice is so important in this, ya gotta be seen when you’re riding a motorcycle.

We talk about this in all of our courses, riding in a position so that you can see and be seen. And when you say mid-block, it’s not the major intersection, you’re actually stating it could very well be a turn point for a vehicle but it is just happening in between the major intersections.

So the study shows that riders are most at risk and statistically motorcycle crashes happen more often on Thursday than any other day of the week. Saturday is a close second and then Friday is third, so really the message of that is pretty obvious. Towards the end of the week riders need to be especially aware of their surroundings.

You also noted a time period for which riders are most at risk in a given day. What time frame was that?

Three PM to 6pm is when most motorcycle crashes occur, which is also when most vehicle crashes occur. That is rush hour and that’s when people are in a rush to get home, and that’s when people’s minds aren’t on the road, that’s not where they’re paying attention and looking for motorcyclists. That’s when we as riders have to be even more aware and more cautious.

In our courses, we actually talk to riders about that time frame in specific. There is a crash scenario that we go over in our Basic RiderCourse and it is set at 5 o’clock and it set at that time for a reason.

Well the study showed that March and October are the two months that have the highest amount of motorcycle crashes. It was 66, so it was actually tied for both the months as far as the amount of crashes that we had. Our interpretation of that is that it is probably snowbirds coming into town in October, plus you know it’s a perfect time to be riding, the weather is incredible in both October and March. March we know that there is Spring Training games, in the past Bike Week happened in March several years ago so that could be a factor in this particular summary. Those are the two months that we have to be especially aware of our surroundings as we’re riding.

We noticed in the summary that a lack of time and space plays a role in vehicle collisions. Can you explain that?

So when a motorcycle is actually hitting a car, 39% of it is when the motorcycle is actually rear ending the vehicle. And that is pretty straight forward. We know why that happens, it is because the motorcycle (rider) isn’t giving itself enough distance to brake safely it is following too closely. And we know cars aren’t backing into motorcycles, so we know that it’s really our responsibility as riders out there to give us enough time and space to maneuver out of a situation if the vehicle up ahead has to brake suddenly.

We also noticed that there was an issue for motorcyclists not having a license or having an expired license or not having insurance. So how can we as motorcyclists be a better part of the motoring community?

Well, yeah, I mean that’s an obvious one to me. I mean, we’re asking vehicles, you know, cars to share the road with motorcyclists and we need to be responsible and share that road again responsibly and be educated when we’re out there.

One of our challenges at TEAM Arizona is to kinda close that gap down which is one of the reasons we offer a fun, safe, convenient way for motorcyclists to get their endorsement and upon successful course completion they can get a discount from most major insurance providers.

That’s awesome. And that’s really what we need to see. We just need to see a lot of education out there and more organizations that are willing to do that and help motorcyclists understand the responsibility for being out there. Just improve those behaviors and that’s what we’re here to do.

For the actual link to the Phoenix Streets Crash summary, visit:

  For the Entire TEAM Arizona Newsletter Content, CLICK HERE

Bill Seltzer Yamaha FJ-09Bill Seltzer has been a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach since 2003 and a Total Control Advanced Riding Instructor since 2011.  He currently serves as the Marketing Director for TEAM Arizona and is a member of the Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Planning committee.  Have questions or comments about the article?  Email him:


  1. Jessica 9 months Reply

    Great article! Thanks for sharing and keeping riders informed.

    • Bill Seltzer 9 months Reply

      Thanks, Jessica, for visiting and watching our video. Please share to help us educate more riders!

  2. Terry Musgrove 9 months Reply

    I appreciate the thought provoking information. Knowledge is power, and a lifesaver!

  3. Joshua Fernau 9 months Reply

    Thank you for the video and the great information you’ve gathered. Great reminders for us all. My wife and I took your basic course before getting motorcycles and what we learned there has saved us time and time again from accidents. So thank you all for what you do at Team Arizona!

    • Bill Seltzer 9 months Reply

      Thank you Joshua for the kind words and for taking time out to watch our video. We’re happy to fulfill our role of making riders safer in Arizona. We hope you and your wife ride safe and have fun out there!

  4. Jeff Abbett 7 months Reply

    This is very valuable information. It would be helpful if you would post the entire document or the link. Also, Team AZ. has many valuable training videos. Perhaps you could identify links to those videos related to these statistics. I read the “5 Biggest Mistakes” article… helpful… but would be great to read some discussion by Team AZ training staff on considerations/steps to prevent these mistakes! Thanks for your commitment to motorcycle enthusiasts!