The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a premier event in South Dakota, drawing some 500,000 motorcycle enthusiasts from across the state and the country to share their passion for riding. The 10-day event includes a discovery ride, a 5k run, a tattoo contest, pub crawls, street food competitions, and a beard and mustache contest. Unfortunately, this event has been marred in recent years by a number of serious motorcycle accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities.
As reported by the Argus Leader, nine people were hospitalized at last year's event for serious injuries following motorcycle accidents. Additionally, the Department of Public Safety reported three fatalities. In one incident, a 65-year-old motorcyclist on Highway 14A failed to negotiate a curve at mile marker 49 and was thrown from his bike. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Though the 2016 event included these tragedies, this was actually a reduction compared to years past. For example, in 2015, there were 15 fatalities over the course of the event.
South Dakota Motorcycle Accidents
It's no surprise that bikers from all over the country flock to South Dakota in the summer to experience our picturesque roads and scenic highways. But the bike rally is a particularly dangerous event when you consider that, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported, more than half of the state's motorcycle deaths occurred during this stretch.
As our Sioux Falls motorcycle accident attorneys know, the presence of so many motorcyclists in one area may actually help to improve safety, as other drivers become better conditioned to look out for motorcyclists. However, more bikers also inevitably mean more crashes, particularly when alcohol is involved.
In the U.S., 5,000 people die in motorcycle accidents every year and another 90,000 are injured. Riding a motorcycle can be hazardous no matter where you are and no matter how experienced the rider. But there are some risk factors that can increase your chances of a serious crash.
Be Safer This Year
If you're headed to this year's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, make a pledge to be safe. Here are some tips for motorcyclists to engage in good safety practices:
- Check the weather. Check the weather forecast often and on a regular basis so you aren't caught unaware by inclement weather.
- Make an itinerary and plan your route. This will save you time and expense, but it will also help you avoid the challenges of trying to navigate when you need to concentrate on riding.
- Get your bike serviced. Taking your bike for a tune-up before you leave will lower your risk of a break down or other possible failures on the road.
- Wear bright colors/ reflectors. You want to be as visible as possible. One of the most common refrains we hear in motorcycle accidents from the other driver is, "I didn't see him." You can lower your risk by wearing bright colors in the day and reflectors at night.
- Ride sober and rested. You need to be alert and prepared for anything.
Legal Rights for Injured Bikers
South Dakota is considered a "tort" state in terms of auto insurance, which means the at-fault driver is required to cover the medical expenses and other losses of the individual who is injured. This would apply also for passengers seeking claims against negligent operators in single-bike crashes. The law requires all motorists—including those operating motorcycles—to carry a minimum of $25,000 in bodily injury liability per person and at least $50,000 per crash.
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident in South Dakota, our dedicated injury lawyers can help. Contact us today.