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Two motorcycle riders killed in 12 hours, local group wants change

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Posted at 3:51 PM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 21:43:22-04
Theresa Ulibarri says she's been a motorcycle rider on Tucson roads for the last 25 years but she can't remember a time when there have been this many motorcycle deaths in such a short amount of time.
 
"We're being picked off one by one and we're tired of it," she said. "Something has to happen and we don't have the answers outside of making people aware of us."
 
Two motorcycle riders were killed in less than 12 hours this week. On Tuesday night, a driver in Avra Valley failed to stop at a stop sign and killed 41-year-old Michael Robert on his motorcycle. Nine hours later, another motorcycle rider died at the intersection of Speedway and Main.
 
According to Tucson Police, Wednesday morning's accident brings the total number of motorcycle fatalities in city limits this year to seven. Police responded to six fatal motorcycle accidents in all of 2015. 
 
In response to an increase in accidents, Ulibarri says about 100 riders plan to attend next week's city council meeting. Ulibarri is the chair of the newly formed Motorcycle Awareness Movement. 
 
"We're not going to be quiet until people start doing something until the city says we'll put PSAs up, we'll get better education at the DMV for drivers, we will help you be noticed," she said.
 
The Arizona Department of Transportation recently released its 2015 crash facts summary showing that 134 motorcycle riders died in the state last year. That's a five percent increase from the year before. 
 
The number of registered motorcycle riders is also increasing, according to ADOT. There are now nearly 200,000 registered riders in the state. 
     
According to ADOT, the number one type of fatal motorcycle crash last year was an accident involving a left turn. 9OYS spoke to Tucson Police traffic detectives last month who said this was a common thread in serious motorcycle accidents; drivers making a left turn who don't see a motorcycle coming, causing the two vehicles to collide. 
 
"We have to be hyper vigilant," said Ulibarri. "We have to know that we go out there and risk our lives every day because people don't seem to care about us." 
 
Deputies say the 76-year-old driver in the Avra Valley accident could face charges pending an investigation. Tucson Police have not said if any charges are pending in the accident at Speedway and Main.