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Arizona motorcycle accidents continue to concern safety advocates

Arizona motorcycle accidents are a continuing cause for concern as the Governors Highway Safety Association reports the state was the 9th deadliest in the nation for motorcycle accidents in 2009.

While final statistics will be released in the coming weeks, the association reports that 98 riders were killed in Arizona during 2009 — no reduction over the 98 killed in 2008 — even as a significant decline occurred nationwide for the first time in more than a decade.Nationwide, motorcycle accidents are forecast to decline to 4,762 deaths, compared to the 5,290 deaths reported in 2008. After 11 years of increases, officials say more needs to be done before the decrease can be considered part of a sustainable decline.

“We will need to see three to five years of decline before we are ready to say that a positive trend has developed,” Association Chairman Vernon Betkey said.

Recently, a Phoenix motorcycle accident killed four people and seriously injured five others after a large dump truck plowed into eight bikes stopped at a traffic light in North Phoenix near 27th Drive and Carefree Highway. The accident was so shocking that the American Motorcycle Association offered a public apology and condolences to the families.

Witnesses reported the dump truck ran over the motorcycles and collided with an SUV that had originally been stopped at the light in front of the bikes. Some of the motorcycles burst into flames as bikes and riders were dragged 50 to 75 yards.

“I have never seen such a horrific accident involving so many motorcycles,” Phoenix Public Safety Manager Jack Harris told reporters at the scene. Local newspapers reported that the 46-year-old truck driver has two pending speeding citations, both issued within the last month.

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