May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - We don't see any lightning, but we can sure hear a lot of thunder around town.

Thousands of bikers have come to Panama City Beach to enjoy the Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally, which is something many local motorcyclists enjoy seeing.

"I actually kinda look forward to it. It's nice to see lots of other people with the same interest," said Local Motorcyclist Fred Kenney.

But with so many bikers here, it's important to take extra precautions on the road.

"Automobile drivers, be aware of your blind spot," said Kenney.

"These cages, we call cars cages, turning left in front of us all the time is one of the biggest issues," said Lucky 13 Venue Manager Randy Snyder.

It's not just those driving cars looking out, Snyder says bikers need to look out for their own safety as well.

"We need bikers to be more responsible with their own speeds, their own riding skills, their own sobriety," said Snyder.

"Obviously, avoiding drinking and driving. Over 30 percent of those crashes also involved, those fatalities involved people who were impaired while they were driving," said Florida Department of Transportation Spokesperson Ian Satter.

Satter says in 2018, Florida saw more than 500 motorcycle-related fatalities. More than 30 percent of those involved head trauma.

Florida Department of Transportation officials and motorcyclists say one of the most important things you can do before getting on your bike is putting on your protective gear.

"The right clothing is very important, jeans and boots all the time. I really hate seeing people in shorts and sandals riding their bikes," said Snyder.

"Try to wear reflective clothing, perhaps a vest like I'm wearing right now. It's very visible, people can see that in the daytime and the nighttime," said Satter.

If you're new to riding or just want some refresher courses, the FDOT is trying to help you stay alive on the road.

"We've partnered with training agencies all across the state, they're offering discounted advanced training for motorcycle riders. So even if you've been on a motorcycle for a year, ten years, 20 years, you're never too old to get out there and get a little more training," said Satter.

Satter also says to make sure you pay attention to bikers' turn signals; bikers make sure you use them.

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