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Major bike rally a reminder for all riders to drive cautiously

In just a few weeks, motorcyclists, gearheads and music fans from across the nation will descend on central Florida to take part in what organizers are calling the "world's largest three-day motorcycle and music event."

The event in question is none other than the 18th annual Leesburg Bikefest, which is being held April 25 through April 27 in the city's downtown area. Here, event goers will be able to view over 50 bands -- including headliners Vanilla Ice and Uncle Kracker -- on eight different stages and view the offerings of hundreds of vendors.

While organizers have indicated that the streets in the downtown area will only be open to motorcycles during the event, there is a very good chance that the roads and highways in the surrounding areas will be filled with a mix of motorcycles, car and trucks.

This, of course, means there will be a heightened risk of motorcycle accidents caused by inattentive or otherwise negligent motorists.

Without a doubt, one of the most common types of serious and even fatal motorcycle accident to occur during heavy traffic congestion is motorists pulling out in front of motorcycles while making a left turn.

Indeed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that as much as 40 percent of all two-vehicle accidents involving at least one motorcycle are left turn crashes where the motorcyclist was either going straight, overtaking the vehicle or passing.

What then can motorcyclists do to protect themselves from these -- and all other types -- of crashes?

According to the experts with Ride Smart Florida, motorcyclists should consider making both themselves and their motorcycles more visible or "conspicuous" to motorists. This may include everything from wearing reflective vests, helmets and decals, adding reflective tape to bikes, installing DOT-approved headlight modulators, and ensuring that daytime running lights are in working order (required by state law).

Furthermore, Ride Smart Florida advises motorcyclists to always practice defensive driving, meaning avoiding vehicle blind spots, keeping a safe distance between other vehicles and assuming that vehicles pulling into traffic don't see you.

While these are very valuable safety tips, the unfortunate fact remains that many motorcyclists will still find themselves victimized by the reckless conduct of car and truck drivers. Whether this happens at an event like the Leesburg Bikefest or while out riding on Florida's innumerable roads and highways, it's important to remember that you can hold the responsible parties accountable, and seek justice for your serious personal injuries or the loss of a loved one.

Source: Ride Smart Florida, "Rider conspicuity: Make yourself more noticeable," April 2014

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