RIDING TIP: Do this ONE thing to reduce chance of being in a fatal motorcycle crash

August 25, 2020 Tags: ,

RIDING TIP:  Do this ONE thing to reduce chance of being in a fatal motorcycle crash

The 2019 Arizona MVD Crash Facts were recently released.  Every year, for nearly three decades, we pour over the data to understand what is happening to riders, and if we are lucky, we gain a better understanding of what riders are facing which helps us guide our decisions for training.


Unfortunately, I’ll have to start this article with a big, fat caveat.  The data is, well, for lack of a better term…incomplete.  The Crash Statistics document is far from what is necessary for us to make any concrete conclusions.  After spending years on the Strategic Safety Highway Planning Committee, we understand the data deeper than most in Arizona.  The problems begin at the collection point.  Different agencies collect their data differently.  What one agency uses to define a field could be quite different from what another agency uses.  Not that government has ever had that issue (looking at you Covid19 reports).

Even more frustrating, we struggle with receiving the additional data from agencies that would help make the data points in the Crash Facts document usable.  For example, what are the vehicle per miles traveled for riders (NHTSA has an algorithm for this, but we don’t have it at the state level)?  How many total endorsed riders are there?  How many riders were unlicensed?

With that said, we can parse out a bit of information to come to rudimentary conclusions we think you’ll find useful.  So for the next few months, we’ll be digging into the report to hopefully provide you with strategies to reduce the likelihood of being in a crash.



For as long as we have been looking at the data, year after year one statistic shines above the rest.  If you want to dramatically reduce your chance of being in a fatal crash, then avoid riding impaired.  In 2019, almost 41% of fatal motorcycle crashes involved rider impairment.  This is no small number.

We say this a lot in our Basic RiderCourse and our Skill Improvement courses.  The behaviors we are developing in the course far outweigh the physical skills a rider may be gaining.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Of course, it starts with making sure we are clear headed before we mount a motorcycle or scooter.

Sounds simple right?  For some reason, we as motorcyclists keep repeatedly having to learn this lesson.


It is not enough to present a problem without a solution.  That is where you come in.  If a rider is drunk or in an altered state, we think it is our responsibility to help that rider from accepting too much risk.  After all, their decision-making abilities are negatively affected.  Time to jump in and intervene.

But you don’t want to do it alone, do you?  Great.  Enlist the support of others.  This could be less combative than a 1-on-1 intervention.  On top of that, the group could arrange an Uber or Lyft to get the rider home.  As most riders are concerned about their motorcycle, maybe another sober rider could ride the bike home or arrange a tow.  Other actions, like distracting the impaired rider to other activities and delaying their departure could help pass the time.  Worse comes to worse, maybe hiding the keys or impairing the bike (removing a spark plug wire lead worked for this author during an intervention) could be just the trick to prevent an impaired rider from harming themselves and others.

Ultimately, we are adults and we’re responsible for our own decisions.  I am curious.  What have you done to prevent a rider from riding impaired?  If you haven’t been in that situation, what would you do?

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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: Bill@MotorcycleTraining.com

1 Comment

  1. Glenn 3 weeks Reply

    First Offense: 500€ fine, two point reduction and one-month driving suspension
    Second Offense: 1,000€ fine, two point reduction and a three-month driving suspension
    Third Offense: 1,500€ fine, two point reduction and a three-month suspension.
    Tougher DUI penalties and fines are issued by host-nation authorities if drivers endanger road traffic or their BAC is greater than 0.109 percent. This is what some Europeans do.