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Motorists, Bikers Urged to Share Road as Sturgis Rally Begins

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STURGIS, S.D. (KELO AM) – As the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally nears, the South Dakota Highway Patrol is reminding drivers and bikers to share the road, especially in the heavy traffic expected in the Black Hills area.

The rally officially begins on Monday, Aug. 4, but motorcycle traffic on South Dakota highways and streets has increased steadily since early summer, says Capt. Kevin Karley of the Highway Patrol’s Rapid City district.

“Motorcycles are pretty vulnerable out there. There are a lot of bikers this time of year, and they can be difficult to see if a motorist isn’t paying close attention,’’ Karley said. “Bikers and motorists alike need to be especially alert and cautious. Please pay attention and share the road.’’

Last year six highway fatalities were recorded in the Rapid City district during the rally period. Statewide in South Dakota, 22 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2013.

“Summer always brings heavier traffic, and the rally means thousands more motorcycles traveling the highways in our state,’’ said Lee Axdahl, director of the Office of Highway Safety. “If everyone pays attention and makes safe choices, bikers, tourists and everyone else on the highways can have a good and safe time.”

Office of Highway Safety statistics show that 30 to 40 percent of motorcycle fatalities occur each year in West River counties during a two-week period around the annual rally.

 This year, the beginning of Rally Week coincides with a nationwide high-visibility enforcement effort on Interstates 90 and 94 from coast to coast. South Dakota Highway Patrol and many local law enforcement agencies are participating with 14 other states in the “I-90/94 Challenge.’’ The operation runs from Aug. 1-4. The goal is to have zero highway fatalities during the period and to reduce total crashes by 50 percent.

Rally visitors are encouraged to visit the Office of Highway Safety website www.southdakotarides.com. Created specifically for motorcycle enthusiasts, the site includes safety tips, motorcycle laws and regulations and a virtual ride feature that gives novice riders or bikers unfamiliar with South Dakota routes a chance to study various routes and gauge the difficulty of the ride compared to their level of skill on a motorcycle.

The Highway Patrol reminds motorcyclists and motorists alike 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.
  • Motorists should remember to buckle up. It’s the law.
  • Motorcyclists are encouraged to wear helmets. 

The official dates of the 2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally are Monday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 10.

Beginning Sunday, Aug. 3, the South Dakota Highway Patrol will provide a daily media release with statistics from the Rally. The daily media releases will end on Sunday, Aug. 10.

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