On May 23, 2010 hundreds of motorcyclists rode from Toby Keith's “I Love This Bar and Grill” in Mesa to Greasewood Flats in North Scottsdale to bring awareness to motorcycle safety in Arizona. The symbolic event, organized by the Phoenix Motorcycle Riding Group and the Phoenix Motorcycle Kruzers, came about as part of a nationwide effort to promote Motorcycle Awareness Month. Similar rides have been organized in Houston, Austin and San Antonio, Texas.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, more than 75,000 motorcycle riders are injured on America's highways each year, with more than 5,000 killed in accidents. The leading cause of motorcycle accidents is, not surprisingly, driver inattention. With distracted driving (usually through texting or talking on cell phones) on the rise, and more people choosing motorcycles and scooters as a more cost-effective means of transportation, riders are more vulnerable than ever. A majority of motorcycle accidents occur during the summer months, when riders must contend with myriad construction projects and a higher number of impaired drivers during summer holidays.
Both Phoenix groups had riders injured in a March 25, 2010 accident on the Carefree Highway when a dump truck hit 10 motorcyclists stopped at a traffic light. The truck driver was not only inattentive, he was also allegedly under the influence of drugs. The accident left four cyclists dead and several others injured.
While motorcycle awareness requires attention from both drivers and riders, motorcyclists can take several steps to protect themselves. First, knowing and respecting the bike's power and capabilities is important. New riders should attend a certified instruction course and be properly licensed. Aside from obeying applicable traffic laws, riders should avoid riding between lanes of slow or stopped traffic. Cyclists should also assume that they are invisible to motorists, so using headlights at all times and staying out of drivers' blind spots is critical to avoiding accidents.