AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally started Friday at the Austin Speed Shop.

Event organizers say they’re hosting a more intimate ROT Rally after experiencing some challenges in recent years.

Prior to 2020, the ROT Rally was at the Travis County Expo Center before it was moved due to negotiation troubles.

In 2020, the event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following year, it returned to Circuit of the Americas, drawing thousands of motorcyclists from all over the country.

In 2022, the event took place in Bastrop with a 2,500-person capacity limit. This year, ROT Rally is back in Austin.

This comes at the same time the Texas Department of Transportation has launched a campaign for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May.

With this in mind, TxDOT is urging drivers to look twice and be considerate on the road around motorcycle riders.

In 2022, 562 motorcycle riders were killed in crashes in the Lone Star State, an 8% increase over the previous year.

Amy Jo Miller nearly suffered the same fate while enjoying a ride on the back of her boyfriend’s motorcycle in Bell County.

She said everything changed in a split second, as a driver turned left in front of them, hitting the bike and throwing her across the road.

“We collided, which caused a neck fracture,” Miller said. “When you stop, your brain still moves, even with a helmet on. So, I suffered a brain injury and stroke.”

Seconds later, another vehicle ran her over in a hit-and-run crash, leaving her with several serious injuries.  

Somehow, she survived the nearly fatal accident.

“I learned to walk again, talk again, I had to relearn everything,” Miller said.

According to TxDOT data, Miller is just one of thousands of Texas motorcyclists seriously injured— or killed — in crashes every year.

“Most of the accidents occur when people are making left turns and turn directly in front of motorcyclists,” TxDOT Austin spokeswoman Glynda Chu said.

TxDOT’s safety campaign “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” aims to protect motorcyclists by educating drivers on how to safely share the road.

“Just look twice when you’re out on the road,” Chu said. “If you see a motorcycle around you, even if you don’t, always look twice.”

Even with most of her memories around the nearly fatal motorcycle crash forever forgotten, Miller shared this message:

“I had my helmet on. I know a lot of people don’t wear their helmets,” she concluded. “They say that I wouldn’t be alive if I didn’t have my helmet.”

TxDOT will host two immersive exhibits this weekend demonstrating the dangers of seeing motorcyclists in high-risk traffic situations.

The 360-degree virtual reality experiences will be taking place at the Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels on Saturday and the Buc-ee’s in Bastrop on Sunday.