"Thunder Beach" revs up start of motorcycle season

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Dothan, AL (WSFA) – If you're noticed a lot of motorcycles on the road lately, that's because thousands of them are heading down to Panama City for "Thunder Beach".

It's an opportunity not only to promote motorcycle safety, but for businesses to cash in on the extra visitors rolling through town.

Thursday, hundreds of bikers met up at the Alabama/Florida state line, revving up for the big weekend.

Paul Crumpler, a biker from Marianna, Florida, said, "Thunder Beach is a group of motorcyclists who all get together and ride to just have fun."

"It gets the summer riding season started.  This is first major event of the season," said Randall Houston, a biker from Wetumpka.

But before they hit that highway ride, Alabama along with Florida and Georgia are using the opportunity to promote motorcycle awareness in a program called "Ride Straight State to State."

They're joining forces, encouraging folks on bikes not to drink and drive and to watch out for other motorists on the road.

It's also a reminder to those on four wheels to be watching for the motorcyclists.

William Whatley, from the Alabama Traffic Safety Division, said, "There will probably be 100,000 plus bikers down there, and they aren't always thinking about safety."

And out of the thousands of bikers making their way to Panama City, many pass through Dothan, creating an economic boost for local businesses.

Lee Dobbs, Owner of Dobbs Barbeque, said, "Thousands of them come right down Hwy. 231, and a lot of them have been stopping by here every year."

Dobbs says these events bring a huge spike in sales for his restaurant and other obvious biker hot spots, like the local Harley dealership.

"We sell a lot of T-shirts, and a lot of parts, and we do a lot of service work for them," said Harley Davidson and Buell Dothan owner Dutch Holland.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has designated May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Statistics show that 33% of motorcycle fatalities are caused by drinking and driving.

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