August 2, 2017
PIERRE, S.D. – More traffic is expected on South Dakota highways starting this week in anticipation of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and officials of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety say patience will be a key to remaining safe.
The 77th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally starts Friday, Aug. 4, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 13. With more motorists driving different kinds of vehicles, especially in the Black Hills area, Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the Highway Patrol, says people need to be even more cautious than usual.
“Many of those attending the rally are not used to traveling in the Black Hills so we encourage people to slow down and watch for others,” Price says. “With increased traffic, people need to share the roads, especially on some of the more narrow and winding roads found in the Black Hills. In the last five years, statistics show that most crashes in the Black Hills occur between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.”
August is traditionally the state’s highest vehicle fatality month each year. Lee Axdahl, director of the Office of Highway Safety, says no matter how many people will attend this year’s rally, driver and rider safety remains the priority.
“It is still about common sense and following the rules of the road,” Axdahl says. “We strongly encourage motorists to wear seat belts and motorcyclists to wear helmets. And keep an eye on intersections and your vehicle blind spots as bikers can seemingly come out of nowhere!”
Another issue of concern this year is the extremely dry conditions in the Black Hills and other parts of western South Dakota. The public is encouraged to be careful with any open burns and devices that could spark a wildfire.
Rally visitors are encouraged to visit the Office of Highway Safety’s website at http://www.southdakotarides.com/. The site includes safety tips, motorcycle laws and regulations and a virtual ride feature that gives novice riders or bikers unfamiliar with South Dakota roads a chance to study various routes and gauge the difficulty of the ride compared to their level of skill on a motorcycle.
Rally attendees looking for real-time public safety information about the Sturgis Rally can also follow four Twitter sites at @SDPublicSafety, @SDHighwayPatrol, @SouthDakotaDOT and @RallyTraffic.
Motorcyclists and motorists alike are reminded of the rules for sharing the road:
Motorcyclists should ride in single-file lines and avoid crowding the center line or crowding motorists.
Motorists should remember not to crowd cycles. Motorcycles have the same rights on the road as motorists.
Motorists and cyclists should follow the recommended speed limits. Motorcyclists should be especially aware of speed limits on curves.
It is against the law to drink and drive. Motorists and cyclists should make sure they have sober drivers.
Motorcyclists are encouraged to wear helmets, and remember to buckle up, it’s the law.