HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- The collective roar of their engines could be heard nearly a mile away. A host of bikers could be seen pouring out of Hill Air Force Base. Some of them were wearing their military uniforms, and others were in traditional biker leather, but nearly all of them wore a fluorescent green outer vest.
About 200 motorcycles were present for the fourth annual "See Me, Save Me" campaign ride Thursday afternoon. Bikers from on-base and off-base all had one goal for the day -- for drivers to see them, said Ken Rue, ride leader for the off-base bikers.
The campaign's purpose is to promote safety awareness for both bikers and regular automobile drivers.
"It isn't enough for us to be in the driver's line of sight. They have to see us," said Allan Woods, Hill's Motorcycle Safety Program manager. Drivers and bikers should lock eyes, so that they know they're aware of each other, he said.
A majority of motorcycle accidents occur because a vehicle will turn in front of them, cut them off or take their lane and force them off the road, Woods said. All of this happens because the driver was not aware of the motorcycle, he said.
The riders were definitely seen during the hour-long ride. It would be impossible for anyone driving along the bikers' route to not see the procession of motorcycles.
It was the first time riding with the group for Sgt. Brandon Johnson, of the 75th Security Forces Squadron, and he said it was quite the sight.
"I was looking ahead and saw an endless line of bikers, and looking in my rear-view I saw an endless line of bikers," Johnson said.
An escort of Utah Highway Patrol and Roy Police motorcycle officers provided safe passage to the long column of bikers. The ride took them throughout Weber and Davis counties, beginning in Roy and passing through Riverdale, Uintah, South Weber, Layton and Clearfield. The route circled the Hill and surrounding areas.
The bikers returned to Hill Aerospace Museum after a successful ride. There were no accidents nor any other problems, Wood said.
Safety is a growing concern, especially for those who live and work at Hill, where motorcycles are everywhere.
About 1,600 people own bikes on base, and Hill's Motorcycle Association is one of the biggest in the Air Force, Wood said. Safety is the group's top priority.
Johnson said he and some friends once were almost hit by a car driven by a teenage girl texting on a cellphone.
Accidents involving motorcycles are becoming more common, according to statistics from the Utah Department of Public Safety.
In 2012, there were 32 fatal accidents involving motorcycles, and it has been a rising trend for the past three years, said Helen Knipe, program coordinator for the Department's Highway Safety Office.
"The riders are taught to wear high-visibility clothing, and bikers on the base are required to take safety-skills training," Knipe said. "But drivers are the other side of the equation -- they need to learn to be aware of riders."
Lori Knoefler has participated in the ride three times and this year took her sister's young grandson on his first motorcycle ride.
"Safety is so important," Knoefler said. "Drivers need to look out, because we're all someone's mother or someone's father or someone's grandmother."