Cars, motorcycles share the roads and the frustrations - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Cars, motorcycles share the roads and the frustrations

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

Do you remember a road rage incident between a group of motorcyclists and the driver of a sport utility vehicle in New York City?  It happened last September and stunned many across the country.

Fortunately, things seldom escalate to this level on the road, but there is tension sometimes between car drivers and motorcyclists.

How do you roll?  On four wheels or two wheels?  Either way, there is plenty of room on the roadways for cars and motorcycles to co-exist,  yet still there can be friction between their two drivers.

"As far as motorcycles in traffic, they scare me because they go between cars."

"I think it's really the cars that are dangerous.. well the people who drive them, not the cars."

"You're driving.. it's always they never see you."

This biker calls Arizona a close call state, saying distracted drivers have forced him to lay his bike down several times to avoid collisions.  On the flip side, those motoring on four wheels have their complaints too.

"I'm very scared of motorcycles.  I think they are the most dangerous things in the world."

"The car in front of me almost hit a motorcycle because they got on the freeway and cut that car off and they almost hit him."

"It is incumbent on the motorcyclist to pay close attention to what cars are  doing."

Some motorcyclists have a slang for me or any one who rides in a four wheel vehicle. They call us "cagers."

The Urban Dictionary Definition: Derogatory four wheeled motor vehicle drivers. The car body effectively forms a cage, isolating the said driver from having to interact with other road users.

"I guess they are kind of cages, but I like having this cage around me, it keeps me alive and without that extra protection, motorcyclists are very vulnerable.  That's why so many of them getting hurt and killed."

How many are getting hurt and killed on Arizona streets and highways?

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) keeps track of all accidents.  In 2012, it documented over 103,000 crashes in Arizona.  Of those, 3,180 -- that's a little over 3 percent involved motorcycles. In those accidents, there were 139 fatalities.

The Arizona Crash Facts also breaks down who was at fault.  Of the 3,180 crashes in 2012, involving motorcycles, 1,580 were categorized as no improper action by the motorcycle driver.  In short, the accident wasn't the motorcyclist's fault.

"Many times, it's vehicles who pull out in front of a bike who fail to appreciate the bike that's coming," said attorney Geoffrey Trachtenberg.

Trachtenberg's firm, The Law Tiger, specializes in motorcycle accidents.  He says some are biased against those who choose to ride on two wheels.

"Some people actually blame bikers for riding bikes and getting hurt and the reality is A, not everyone can afford a car and B, a bike is far more fuel efficient," he said.

An avid biker himself, Trachtenberg says those who drive in vehicles are more likely to be dangerously distracted.

"Bottom line is when you're driving in a car, you're easily distracted by what's on the radio, by what's on your phone, your kids.. it's a very easy environment to get distracted.  It's much harder to get distracted when you're on a bike."

It was a distracted driver in a hurry who hit and nearly killed motorcyclist Scottie McElroy as he headed to work  one morning last February.

"I flew across four lanes of traffic right there at the intersection.. luckily a light rail wasn't coming."

McElroy broke bones in his hip, his pelvis, and his arm so badly that he can't work and can't ride a bike for long.
Trachtenberg represents him.

"We're all in too much of hurry on two wheels and four wheels. Slow down, be more careful, you could kill someone or  in his case -- kill their dreams," said McElroy.  "Hopes and dreams of becoming a full time firefighter.. that'll never happen.  That's a sad fact of life right there."

Another fact: it's getting more crowded on Arizona roads, and the popularity of motorcycles is growing.

Between 2008 and 2012, motorcycle registrations in Arizona rose from 155,000 to over 170,000. Up over 15,000.

More bikers rolling along with more cagers.  How much attention each pays to the other -- a matter of life and death.

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