SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Law enforcement is encouraging motorcycle safety as the official start of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally approaches.
Last year, four people died in two motorcycle crashes during the Sturgis Rally, according to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. There were five injury crashes.
The data is part of the overall 2021 crash data for the state.
The state had 466 total motorcycle crashes in 2021, according to the DPS crash data website.
There were 671 total drivers in those crashes. Nineteen drivers were killed in those crashes and 384 drivers were injured.
From 2011 to 2020, the most motorcycle fatalities was 31 in 2015 and 22 of those were not wearing helmets, according to the Fiscal Year 2021 DPS highway safety plan annual report.
The largest crowd at the Sturgis Rally was a reported 750,000 attendees for the 75th anniversary in 2015. At least 12 fatalities were reported during the Sturgis Rally in 2015.
The 2021 number was less than the 27 fatalities in 2020, according to the FY2021 report. Of those 27 fatalities, 25 were drivers and two were passengers.
Most 2021 crashes happened between 12 p.m. (noon) and 11 p.m. and 4 p.m. was the peak crash time with 12% of the crashes happening then.
The bulk of the crashes happened on weekends with the most, 20%, happening on a Saturday.
There were 77 crashes on Friday and also on Sunday. Ninety-five of the crashes were on a Saturday.
The DPS broke down 507 crashes for helmet use. Of those 267 (53%) did not involve helmet use. The DPS said helmets were used in 190 (37%) of the crashes.
Twenty motorcyclists who died in 2020 were not wearing helmets. That 74% was more than the 43% in 2019.
About 81% of the drivers involved in motorcycle crashes in South Dakota were males and most of those were in the 45 – 64 age range.
The average age of the 2021 rally attendee was about 46.5 and the median age was 47, according to the city of Sturgis.
Four counties in the Black Hills area were among those with the most motorcycle crashes in 2021. Pennington County had the most with 109. Lawrence was third with 54. Custer and Mead each had 47. Minnehaha, in eastern South Dakota, had 89 crashes.