Local Motorcycle Accidents On The Rise, Prompting Calls For Safer Driving

Looking at the statistics from police, East Texas roads are dangerous for bikers. The number of motorcycle accidents has doubled this year, according to Tyler police.

And just this morning, one of their own became a part of those statistics.

This morning, Tyler police officer James Lenderman was hit on his motorcycle by a driver at the intersection of Donnybrook Avenue and Wilma Street in Tyler.

KLTV 7's Courtney Lane was on the scene and paints a startling picture for both drivers and bikers.

The scene is becoming all too familiar across East Texas.

Today, Tyler police officer James Lenderman was hit by a driver who didn't see him.

"He's complaining of a lot of pain in his right leg," said Don Martin with the Tyler police department.

On Tuesday, a motorcyclist was killed in Noonday. During the July Fourth holiday, a Winona rider died, and last month another Tyler officer was struck on his bike.

"Anytime you hear that call on the radio that an officer is down it makes you stand on edge," Martin said.

Jeff Vickers witnessed today's accident. It serves as a reminder of why he no longer rides.

"My little brother, he rides, but I just pray for him...they're on 2 wheels, and they don't stop and they don't endure impact as greatly as a vehicle does."

But, despite the dangers, soaring gas prices are driving more to 2 wheels instead of 4, as Martin has noticed.

"People are buying motorcycles, they're using them more."

That includes more bicyclists, both of which can be hard for drivers to see.

"There have been times that I have almost pulled over in the path of a motorcycle because I have that blind side on my car," said Bennie Webster, a driver we talked to today.

Already this year in Tyler there have been 36 accidents, most of them involving injuries.

A growing number of errors and misjudgements can have deadly consequences.

Drivers say something needs to change.

"Driving slower, looking more, slowing down," and as Bennie also suggests - "...not talking on cell phones."

And the same goes for motorcyclists.

"I've seen so many that somewhat drive recklessly," said Martin. "They need to slow down and they need to wear helmets."

Motorcyclists also follow the same traffic laws as other vehicles. Riders are encouraged to use side roads when possible, stay to the right of busy highways, and always wear a helmet.

In fact, anything to help draw more attention, like headlight modulators, are encouraged, but it'll have to be a dual effort to save lives.

The officer from today's accident is expected to be okay. The driver was cited for failure to yield right of way from a stop sign.

Courtney Lane, reporting. clane@kltv.com