This year, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally embarks on its 78th year and is bringing with it about a half-million riders to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Concerts, races, bike shows, bike sales and trades, food, and fun abound for Rally enthusiasts. However, the winding roads, traffic, and weather can create conditions which compromise safety.
The 77th Sturgis Rally was beset by a high number of accidents, injuries, and fatalities during the 10-day event. Riders are encouraged to exercise caution to avoid those unfortunate statistics this year. According to the South Dakota Office of Highway Safety, South Dakota has more riders per capita than any other state, but 70% of the people involved in fatal motorcycle accidents in South Dakota are from other states.
Nate Oviatt, a Goodsell Quinn Attorney and Sturgis native, who specializes in motorcycle accidents, says, "While many riders come to the Hills and have a wonderful time, I've seen several accident victims struggle with devastating injuries post-accident. Prevention is the key to staying safe."
"Whether you are from South Dakota or visiting from out-of-state," explains Oviatt, "there is a handful of things you should keep in mind during the Rally."
- Weather conditions can change in a hurry, so be prepared to take cover on short notice.
- Although City Officials do a remarkable job with traffic control, traffic will be congested and unpredictable. Give yourself plenty of time and space to maneuver.
- Many riders at the Rally are beginners or first-time riders. Never overestimate the riding ability of those on the road with you.
- Take your time. Impatience is dangerous.
- Don't drink and ride!
If you find yourself in an accident, the first priority is safely securing the scene for yourself and for first responders. Once safety is established, you may find that taking photos or videos of the scene often helps people recall and mentally organize the usual chaos of an accident scene.