An annual motorcycle rally in the Black Hills has kept state troopers and emergency rooms busy this year. Just halfway through the week-long event officials reported dramatic increases over 2011 in fatal accidents, accidents without injuries and DWI arrests. One category, accidents with injuries, is lower, although state troopers warn that the weekend could change that. The rally ends Sunday.
A Michigan man was involved in one single-vehicle accident. He reportedly lost control of his motorcycle and ended up in a ditch. The 43-year-old Ottawa Lake resident walked away from the accident with minor injuries, only to be arrested later for driving drunk.
The statistics are daunting. The rally began Monday, and by early Thursday morning five motorcyclists had died compared to last year's single fatality. State patrol reported 28 accidents without injury, 10 more than last year, and 30 accidents with injury, 16 fewer than 2011. DWI arrests jumped 15 percent, from 121 last year to 141 so far this year. Hospitals in the area reported 86 rally-related emergency room visits between 7:00 a.m. Tuesday and 7:00 a.m. Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, 25 people were still in the hospital.
The highway patrol says most accidents are caused by either speed or alcohol or a combination of the two. They add that the Black Hills boasts some spectacular scenery and some challenging roads. Riders have plenty of distractions without the alcohol or excessive speed on roads that wind around and that are flanked by steep embankments or sheer drop-offs.
Organizers and state officials are focusing more on safety this year than they have in the past, too. Troopers will know by Sunday evening just how effective any of the safety measures have been.
- Keloland Television, "5th Motorcycle Fatality Reported In Sturgis Rally," Aug. 8, 2012
- Sturgis Rally Daily, "Rally Tally," Aug. 9, 2012
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