Motorcycle awareness month already marked by fatality

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Distracted driving is on the rise, meaning riding a motorcycle is more dangerous now than ever.

And while some people say motorcyclists don't drive safely, almost half of collisions are the motorists fault, not the motorcycle rider.

They're all around you, even if you don't see them, especially with gas prices on the rise. Motorcycles are becoming a more convenient way of travel. But is it safe?

"You have to pay attention a lot more," said motorcyclist Randy LeJeune. "You can't just go through intersections, even if they light is green. You have to slow down and look both ways to make sure no one is blowing the light."

LeJeune first got his motorcycle at the age of 15, and he's been a motorcyclist ever since. But now he says he is a little more cautious before climbing aboard his bike.

"I feel nowadays with the technology of cell phones and iPods, people aren't aware of motorcyclists on the road as they used to be," said LeJeune.

Law enforcement officers stress the fact that distracted driving can be deadly, and in some cases, against the law.

"Pay attention," said Senior Corporal Joshua Bazinet. "Obey your laws. Texting and driving is illegal in the state of is a primary offense now."

There are many ways motorcyclists can better prepare for today's roadways. One, always wear a helmet. In fact here in Louisiana, it's the law.

"You have no armor at all," said Corporal Bazinet. "You are not a vehicle. Your only armor is your helmet and that's it."

But the rest of your wardrobe is just as important.

"You should wear high visibility clothing," said Corporal Bazinet. "I know it's not cool to wear bright fluorescent orange or green, but in the daytime, especially daytime, people can't see you."

LeJeune says people are in hurry a lot of times and not focused on the road in front of them.

"I think I can speak for all motorcyclists out there," said LeJeune. "It's not our inability to ride, it's everyone's inability to see us or the lack of attention when we're on the road."

But he also knows that not all motorcyclists are innocent, in fact, he gives the same advice to bike riders as he gives to regular motorists.

"Obey the traffic laws just like you would in a car," said LeJeune. "If the speed limit is 50, then go 50 not 70."

Bazinet says most motorcycle accidents happen within the first six months of a motorcyclist receiving their motorcycle license.

To obtain a motorcycle license, drivers must complete an additional test at the DMV.

But no safety classes are required. The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office says safety courses are available through the Louisiana Highway of Safety Commission.

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