Leander biker survives crash, teaches others about motorcycle safety

TxDOT reported 599 motorcyclist deaths in 2023 and last May, Al Peterson almost became a part of that statistic.

"It's a miracle I'm alive," said Peterson.

He'll never forget the day of his crash. "It was May 13, 2023," said Peterson. "It was the worst day of my life so far."

While riding his grandpa's 1939 motorcycle on Parmer Lane, just north of Brushy Creek Road, another driver hit him while making a U-turn.

"It was bent, completely pushed back into the frame, and that was back in '39 where they made everything out of solid steel so that just shows you the amount of force that it took," said Peterson.

Photo of Al Peterson's motorcycle after the crash (Al Peterson)


The impact threw him about 20 yards, and the car came to a stop on his leg.

Peterson still doesn't know why the driver didn't see him but said they did have to pay a fine.

The crash caused a long list of injuries, including two punctured lungs, broken ribs, and compound fractures. Even last month, he had surgery for a heart stent.

"It was just pretty miserable," said Peterson. "Had to relearn how to talk, relearn how to walk. All of it, but it's a miracle that I'm still here."

According to TxDOT, the number of motorcyclists killed on Texas roads increased by seven percent in 2023. Fifty of those deadly crashes happened here in Austin.

More than 200, like Peterson, were injured.

"It's been my entire life for the last year, and it's been a big part of the lives of everyone around me for the last year," said Peterson.

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Al Peterson in the hospital after his May 2023 crash (Al Peterson)


As May closes out Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, he's using this second chance at life to teach others.

"Always wear a helmet, always leave plenty of space in front of you, try to predict what the next driver is going to be doing," said Peterson.

He wants his story to encourage anyone who will listen, bikers or not, to consider better safety practices on the roads.

"You may think you can look down for a second, but that's really all it takes for something terrible like what happened to me to happen to anyone," said Peterson.

He knows better than most that anyone could actually be you.

"Distracted driving is a big problem," said Peterson. "People know that. They just don't think it could happen to them."

Al Peterson with his motorcycle (Al Peterson)

Peterson said next week he plans to begin repairing his grandpa's bike.

It could take a year or two to fix it, and he hopes to get back on, but he said he'll drive in his neighborhood and never ride on a highway again.

TxDOT reminds drivers to keep a safe distance from motorcycles on the road, pay special attention at intersections and left lane turns, look twice before changing lanes, slow down, and stay focused on the road.