Are you tired of hearing this lie? I sure am. ‘’He came out of nowhere.’’ This is the excuse we see nearly every day when some motorist in Arizona turns left at an intersection directly in front of somebody on a motorcycle – often with horrible consequences to the person on the motorcycle. And I, for one, am tired of hearing the lie.
Do not get me wrong – I do not think most motorists cause these collisions at intersections intentionally. That would be ridiculous. And I understand that there is no time more dangerous on the road for somebody on the motorcycle than when they are going straight heading into an intersection when somebody is going to turn left. These collisions are so common that there are – in fact – a great deal of factors involved that lead to these collisions.
But how about a little bit of honesty? How about people admitting that the motorcyclist did not ‘’come out of nowhere’’ and simply saying they failed to look. And, for those that want to defend the motorists keep in mind that there is a simple Arizona law that makes clear who is at fault in the vast majority of these situations. Arizona statute A.R.S. 28 – 772 makes it a violation to turn left in front of another motorist/motorcycle that is so close ‘’as to constitute an immediate hazard.’’ I think this law is sometimes underutilized. Too often, we hear people claiming motorcyclists are invisible. They do not use the words. But that is what they are trying to say when they make this claim.
What can the motorcycle community do about it? Well, I’m not suggesting there is a single, silver bullet answer. And I am certainly not claiming to be the sole voice that would have an opinion. Having sat next to and helped so many people and families after these collisions I have several ideas. First, it is never, ever too late to get additional motorcycle training. I can see many readers of this article rolling their eyes right now. Yes, you’ve been riding for many years. Yes, you have seen it all and done it. But studies show over and over again that additional training and greater expertise on the motorcycle will decrease your chances of getting hit by these motorists who are not paying attention at intersections or otherwise. Second, take every precaution you already are and if there’s anything else if you can think of to increase your safety do it. But, finally, let’s end the charade of allowing motorists to claim that the people riding motorcycles “came out of nowhere.’’ They would never try this when they turn left in front of a car. In those cases they more often admit that they made a mistake. Police – and potentially prosecutors – should hold those responsible who fail to look before they turn. Let’s use Arizona’s laws and hopefully start changing the way people drive to save lives.
AMSAF Board Member – The Husband and Wife Law Team