This weekend was the official kick off to the 2017 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. And people are still making their way from across the country out West River. With the increase in traffic comes some safety concerns.
Making a pit stop at J&L Harley Davidson in Sioux Falls, Mick Haehn and his friends are headed out to the 77th annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis. Coming from Ohio Haehn has been driving for two days and he says for such a long trip you have to be in the right mindset to ride.
“You got to be aware of your surroundings. You know of course don’t drink and drive. We all like to have a good time but you don’t want to go out there impaired,” motorcycle rider Mick Haehn said.
Even before you get on the road to have a safe trip you have to know what you’re riding.
“Learn the motorcycle; you have to know the bike you are going to ride because everyone is different,” Haehn said.
With the increased interstate traffic the South Dakota state troopers have stepped up their patrol.
“Our focus in the next 11 days will be the interstate we definitely have an increase in the number of people on the interstate traveling to and from the rally,” SD Highway Patrol Sergeant Steve Swenson said.
Motorcycle safety instructor Chase Huntimer says he’s seen riders go out to Sturgis before they were ready and he says riding in the hills is different than riding anywhere else.
“Sturgis is a really busy event a lot of bikes out there a lot of traffic a lot of winding roads so I think it is best when students get at least a couple of years of experience under their belt before they venture out there,”
For anyone heading out to the rally Swenson has this advice.
“It’s better to get there safely than to get there quickly,” Swenson said.
Swenson also wants to remind all drives to be alert while there are extra motorcycles on the road. he says the bikes can be hard to see so be sure to check your blind spot before you change lanes.
The following correction has been made:
Sgt. Steve Swenson is a trooper with South Dakota Highway Patrol.