by: Perry Groten
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — You don’t need a calendar to know that this is the first official day of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, just check the traffic on the interstates. Even in eastern South Dakota, hundreds of miles from the Black Hills, we’re seeing motorcycles converging from all directions.
That extra traffic raises safety concerns among South Dakota law enforcement.
Troopers in the Sioux Falls area have been ticketing bikers for a variety of violations even days before the rally. Most of the violations involve speeding. And many of the drivers are from out-of-state, unfamiliar with South Dakota’s traffic laws.
Bikers, coming around the bend on their way to Sturgis, face a learning curve when it comes to the rules of the road.
“It’s their duty to keep up on the laws of the state that they’re going through. But sometimes, they just get used to what their laws are in their state and don’t realize that laws are different in different states,” South Dakota Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Schade said.
Bikers, emboldened by South Dakota’s 80 mph interstate speed limit, sometimes don’t slow down when they reach Sioux Falls. Sgt. Steve Schade pulled over a Minnesota driver hauling a motorcycle trailer for going too fast.
Sgt. Schade: Heading out west?
Driver: Yeah, I’m going to Sturgis.
Schade issued the driver a warning ticket. During the traffic stop, another driver from Minnesota, hauling motorcycles, didn’t properly change lanes while Schade’s emergency lights were on.
Sgt. Schade: On your way to the rally?
Sgt. Schade: Alright, here’s what I’ll do, I’ll just write you a warning today for failure to move over, okay?
Highway patrol troopers aren’t just law enforcement officers. In some ways, they serve as roadside ambassadors since they’re often the first people encountered by bikers when they first enter the state.
“We also just want to make sure they have a good experience here in South Dakota and enjoy their time out here, but also have a safe time,” Sgt. Schade said.
And a safe time involves knowing, and obeying South Dakota’s traffic laws.
Sgt. Schade: You guys should have a fun time out there.
Sgt. Schade: Alright, take care.
Out-of-state bikers face the added challenge of being unfamiliar with South Dakota roads.
You can plan your safe route to Sturgis by going to the Office of Highway Safety’s website.