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Sunday marks the end of the 2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Residents of Sheridan have likely noticed the huge influx of the bikers making their way through town.
The event is a great boost for Sheridan’s economy, even though it takes place in South Dakota. Bikers stop in town, eat in our restaurants, drink in our bars, shop in our downtown shops and buy gas at local stations.
But the event comes with a cost as well. According to local South Dakota news reports, on Tuesday, a 73-year-old man became the third motorcycle fatality at this year’s rally.
Signs along the interstates have cautioned drivers to be aware of the two-wheeled vehicles in recent weeks. They can be difficult to see and are often overlooked when drivers in larger vehicles change lanes, make turns or move to pass. According to several safety websites, motorcycle accidents are most common when a large vehicle makes a left turn in front of the bike, the bike is in the large vehicle’s blind spot, hazardous road conditions hinder the ability to navigate roads and bad weather causes motorcyclists to make quick changes to their riding strategy.
But motorcyclists, too, need to respect the rules of the road.
So far this year, multiple stories have been told of riders acting irresponsible. Some motorcycle riders pass when they shouldn’t, they don’t use their turn signals and at times they speed. While their infractions likely aren’t any more numerous than drivers operating four-wheeled vehicles, they can prove more dangerous.
Police scanners can pick up the traffic of rescue workers responding to car accidents in the area and the scanner at The Sheridan Press has been noisy with radio traffic the last several days. Numerous accidents involving motorcycles have been reported. In fact, one dispatcher referred to an accident in the Bighorns as “another” accident, indicating their regularity recently.
There are ways, though, to keep yourself safe — no matter what vehicle you are driving.
For motorcyclists, experts recommend wearing safety gear including helmets, glasses or goggles, boots, leather riding clothes and gloves. Safety experts also advise sticking to the speed limit, using your turn signals, avoiding tailgating and being respectful of other drivers.
For drivers in larger vehicles, the best advice is to be aware. Motorcycles are harder to see, so this time of year when the bikes are numerous, be extra cautious. When you know there is a motorcycle near you on the road, anticipate the driver’s next move — drivers may maneuver within a lane to respond to weather conditions, road conditions and other factors. Also, give motorcyclists plenty of room, this will allow time for you to react.
Both motorcyclists and other drivers should heed the “be aware” signs along our roads.