Motorcyclists can now experience the open roads of South Dakota from their laptops, before hopping onto their Harleys. The state kick-started a new website Friday that promotes biking safety.
People who visit SouthDakotaRides.com can take a virtual spin through some of the most popular motorcycling routes in western South Dakota.
"So, that's just one example of many that you can use to check out the roads before you check out the roads," Gov. Dennis Daugaard said.
Sporting a leather motorcycle jacket, Daugaard proclaimed next week as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Week in South Dakota.
"We need to be recognizing that motorcycles have the same rights and privileges that all drivers have. They have the same right to a safe following distance and a safe cushion of safety," Daugaard said.
The helmet-mounted camera angle aims to help motorcyclists learn the degree of difficulty on South Dakota roads, from hilly terrain to hairpin turns.
"And hopefully, if they're really experienced, they can handle the difficult roads and if not, they should stay away from there and that's what this Website does," Dept. of Public Safety Secretary Trevor Jones said.
The website also points users to motorcycle safety classes that they can enroll in.
"And that's one of the benefits that you can get from this website. It's a quick way to find out where those courses are being provided," Daugaard said.
Nearly 80 percent of deadly motorcycle crashes in South Dakota involve people from out-of-state. But with this website, geared toward the proper handling and care of motorcycles, the hope is that more bikers will enjoy their South Dakota ride, with safety a virtual certainty.
Organizers say the website should be a valuable tool for bikers planning to make it to Sturgis this year for the annual motorcycle rally. The website will eventually be upgraded to provide virtual rides along roads in eastern South Dakota, as well.