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Autumn can bring unexpected hazards for motorcyclists

South Dakota motorcyclists likely still have a couple of months of good riding weather before the cold and snow sets in. However, it's essential not to underestimate some of the dangers that fall can present to bikers.

Leaves are among the top hazards. They're beautiful ti look at, but when they fall, they can stick to your visor and/or windshield and impair your vision -- particularly when they're wet. If you want to enjoy the sight of leaves falling, pull over. It's too easy to get mesmerized by them and become distracted if you're watching them while you're riding.

Be especially careful of leaves that have already fallen. Even damp leaves can be extremely slick. Further, fallen leaves can cover potholes, rocks, uneven surfaces and sleeping animals. Try not to ride through a pile of fallen leaves.

Speaking of animals, you're likely to see wildlife this time of year on or near many roads and trails. They may be looking for food or trying to escape hunters. November and December are prime breeding months for various types of deer found in South Dakota, so they're apt to be on the move.

As the temperatures drop, frost can develop on the roads -- particularly in the early morning and in shady and covered areas. There may be such a thin layer that you can't see it. However, it can be extremely slippery. Even when the ground is dry, the cooler temperatures give you less traction, so be aware of that.

Motorcyclists are even more impacted by the changing seasons than motorists. It's important to make sure that you have the right clothing and gear for whatever the day may bring -- including a steep drop in temperature, a sudden rainfall or an early sprinkling of snow. It's also wise to check the weather forecast if you're going to be riding any distance.

Unfortunately, no matter how careful they are, motorcyclists are too often injured by drivers who are reckless or negligent. Too often, bikers are blamed even when they aren't at fault simply because some people make inaccurate and unfair assumptions about them. If you've been injured in a crash caused by someone else, don't hesitate to fight for the compensation you need and deserve to handle medical care, lost wages and other costs.

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