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August 03, 2014 09:55 PM

Bikers Talk About Safety On Highways

Sioux Falls, SD

Thousands of bikers are on the highways leading to Sturgis today as motorcyclists gather for the first day of the 74th annual rally tomorrow.

"Lot of bikes. I came up through Iowa and there's a lot of bikes," Jim Jones said.

While Sturgis prepares for the rush, the interstates in South Dakota are full of bikers making the cross-state trek. With all the extra traffic, bikers hope drivers pay attention to them.

"The van cut us off and we had to go around. I think he saw us coming but we came into the lane anyway and I think a lot of cars have no courtesy for bikers, they really don't," Paula Kiger said.

Some bikers today make their last stop in Sioux Falls before traveling nearly 400 miles to Sturgis. Kevin Smith of Louisville, Kentucky is making his first trip to the rally, and he says traveling in a large group has helped him stay safe.

"Kind of look out for one another. On a motorcycle I kind of drive like the cars don't see me so I can make sure that I'm driving defensively and alert," Kevin Smith said.

But Pauline Basham says driving in a group can make riding more difficult.

"Cars cut in us. There's a string of us and they cut in the middle and it makes it hard for us to get back together," Pauline Basham said.

That's something Jim Jones looks for when he's on the road. The Montana resident will be making the long-trip home on Interstate-90 and will be keeping an eye on the thousands of bikers joining him.

"I try to give them as much courtesy as I can. Let them in and when you see a group of them, let them all stay together and just kind of watch for them," Jones said.

Around 450,000 people are expected in Sturgis for the rally. South Dakota Highway Patrol has extra officers on hand to make sure the ride there is safe. Bikers say if everyone is alert and watching the road, that shouldn't be a problem.

"Be respectful to motorcyclists," Jonelle Jones said.

"You know we're going to be respectful to the cars," Basham said.

To help prevent crashes, the South Dakota Highway Patrol is teaming up with 14 other states in the "I-90/94 Challenge.'' The operation runs until August 4. The goal is to have zero highway fatalities during the period and to reduce total crashes by 50 percent.

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