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Louisiana motorists must practice motorcycle awareness

When the sun is shining, and the autumn temperatures are pleasant, that is enough of a reason for motorcyclists to take a ride. However, riding a motorcycle is not without its risks. Of course, motorcyclists can wear helmets and carefully follow the rules of the road to keep themselves safe. Unfortunately, what they are not safe from -- no matter what precautions they take -- are motorists who are not practicing motorcycle awareness and are not looking out for motorcycles in their vicinity. When a motorist does not pay attention to motorcycles on the road, they could strike one, causing serious injuries or even death.

For example, motorcycles have a smaller profile than a standard automobile, and thus are not as visible. Motorists must take the time to check for motorcycles, especially when they are changing lanes or at intersections, to avoid causing a motorcycle accident. In addition, due to their small size, motorcycles seem to be farther away than they really are, and it can be difficult for motorists to determine how fast a motorcycle is going. Motorists must take care to check for motorcyclists when they are at intersections or entering or exiting driveways and parking lots, keeping in mind that a motorcycle may be closer to them than they think.

When a motorcyclist slows down, the rider may downshift or roll off the throttle. If they do so, their brake lights will not go on. Motorists should keep a greater following distance between themselves and motorcycles, so they do not hit the motorcyclist if the motorcyclist slows down. Similarly, motorists should keep in mind that motorcycles are not always able to stop "on a dime."

Road debris, weather conditions and passing vehicles present more of a hazard to motorcyclists than they do to automobiles. Motorcyclists may have to adjust their lane position or make other maneuvers to stay safe. Motorists need to be aware of this and give the motorcyclist the space they need to avoid causing a collision.

While motorcyclists have a duty to ride responsibly, motorists also have a duty to drive with due care around motorcyclists. If a motorist breaches this duty and collides with a motorcyclist, the motorcyclist could suffer severe injuries, or even lose his or her life. If so, the motorcyclist or his or her survivors, may want to determine if they have a legal claim against the responsible driver.

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