ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and one Albany County mother decided to tell her story to call New Yorkers to action.

Karen Hill lost her 27-year-old son, Zachary Hill, in 2009 in a motorcycle accident.

“You know Zachary had his bike sold. And he was going to take one last ride and it was his one last ride,” Hill said.

According to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, motorcycle fatalities have only increased in the past year. In 2020, there were 179 deaths from motorcycle accidents compared to 133 fatalities in 2019.

During a press conference with New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Hill said the time is now to bring motorcycle safety awareness to the forefront in New York state.

“Mother’s Day is coming up and that’s where I spend my Mother’s Day, is in the cemetery,” Hill said.

Hill asked New Yorkers to do everything they can to stop another mother from grieving, and she’s calling on motorcycle clubs and shop owners especially. 

“These shops and these clubs are the voices,” Hill said. “The thing they should be able to help me with is to get the word out.”

When News10’s Stephanie Rivas asked what her message to new riders was, Hill answered without hesitation.

“Go to training first. Before you get on that bike,” Hill said.

The New York State Motorcycle Safety Program offers training to nearly 17 thousand New Yorkers a year.

“We teach you things that are lifesaving skills. How to break properly with both brakes without locking them up. How to turn properly without going too hot into the turn,” Ben Zadrozny, Program Manager for the safety program.

Zadrozny drove home during the press conference, that training isn’t enough, though: Proper gear is essential.

“The maximum protection can be had with a modular full-faced helmet.” Zadrozny said.

According to the state’s traffic safety commission, helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing motorcycle fatal injuries, and 41 percent for motorcycle passengers.

Zadrozny said he wears reflective protective gear because being seen by other drivers is a must.

“If one in five vehicles is texting behind the wheel, this will help. You never ever want to hear, officer, I did not see him,” Zadrozny said.