Lawton_Hundreds of bikers roared through the Lawton-Fort Sill area on Friday during the Third Annual Freedom's Thunders Safety Run Motorcycle Rally. According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclist fatalities have more than doubled in 10 years, which is why Fort Sill wants to make sure riders and drivers stay safe while on the road this summer.
Hundreds of military, civilian, and even law enforcement bikers gathered at Fort Sill for the event. Melody Cuni rode two up with her son this year, and she's just one of the people participating who say that riding motorcycles is a lot more than simply a means of transportation, and that's why she loves it. "You smell it, you hear it, you feel it. I mean, it's just all of it," she said.
However, riding motorcycles can be dangerous. Last year there were nearly 5,000 motorcycle deaths in the country - making up 11% of total highway fatalities.
Staff Sergeant Michael Chavers organizes these runs to promote rider safety. Before getting on their bikes for the 65-mile tour through southwest Oklahoma, the riders attend briefings about wearing helmets and other safety gear, along with traffic awareness. "Especially with the price of gas the way it is, you're seeing more and more of us on the road," he said. "It's not only for us, but also for everybody that drives four wheels, because they just don't see us when we're around there riding."
This day isn't just about motorcycle safety, though. It's also about having fun with your friends while riding your bike. "How many places do you actually get to see where you can put 600 motorcycles in one giant formation, and see that at any given time? That's a pretty awesome sight," said Chavers. The event is even more fun when everyone is wearing their protective gear and follows the rules of the road. "It's not worth it getting hurt, not to be safe and prepared," Chavers said.
Governor Brad Henry thinks motorcycle safety is so important that he has declared May 9, 2008, as "Motorcycle Safety Day." Fort Sill offers a free motorcycle safety foundation rider course every week. Although the class is on post, it's open to civilians as well.