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‘Rally Time’ Safety Requires Bikers, Motorists to Share Road

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO AM) – Heavier than normal traffic flows during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally require bikers and drivers to share the road for safety, officials with the South Dakota Highway Patrol and Office of Highway Safety caution.

Although the rally doesn’t officially begin until Monday, Aug. 5, motorcycle traffic has increased since early summer and likely will continue to be heavy through the end of August, says Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

“We have already recorded eight fatal crashes involving motorcycles this year, Price said. “Rally time puts thousands more motorcycles on the highways, but if each of us pays attention to the road and to the other drivers and riders, we can have a fatality free rally.’’

About one-third of motorcycle fatalities each year happen in West River counties during a two-week period around the annual rally, statistics from the Office of Highway Safety show. Riders can brush up on safety techniques and get a virtual look at many good motorcycle routes by visiting www.southdakotarides.com.

Created last year by the Office of Highway Safety specifically for motorcycle enthusiasts, the site includes safety tips, motorcycle laws and regulations and several interactive features. One of those features offers website visitors a virtual ride on several popular South Dakota routes.

“Many of the fatal and injury crashes involving motorcycles happen to relatively inexperienced riders,’’ said Lee Axdahl, director of the Office of Highway Safety.  “The virtual ride feature of our website gives riders a chance to look at the features of a particular stretch of road before seeing it from over the handlebars of a bike. Riders can compare the difficulty of the route to their level of skill on the motorcycle.’’