Staying Safe at the Rally

Tips for Motorcyclists and Motorists

Summer is the season when most motorcycle communities hold rallies like the Sturgis rally and the Republic of Texas Bike Rally in Austin. The rallies are beneficial not only as a fun social event for bikers. Sturgis businesses can thank the rally-goers' business for providing 95 percent of their annual revenue.

However, the rallies have a reputation for frequent and often fatal motorcycle accidents. With huge numbers of motorcyclists in attendance of these rallies, accidents are far too common. For example, one third of western South Dakota's reported motorcycle accidents are connected to the Sturgis rally.

Safety Tips for Motorcyclists

Follow recommended distance guidelines between vehicles and bikes. Tailgating or riding too close behind other motorcycles or vehicles is dangerous. The guidelines suggest a space of one bike length for every 10 mph of speed. If you're riding a Harley Davidson, extend the distance to two bike lengths.

Be alert and conscious of all other vehicles sharing the road with you. Many riders can develop tunnel vision and are not completely aware of their surroundings.

Wear a helmet. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets are 37% effective in preventing fatalities in a motorcycle accident.

Safety Tips for Motorists Sharing the Road with Motorcyclists

Motorists have as much of an obligation to be conscious of motorcyclists as they do for bicyclists and pedestrians. Over half of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle and, more times than not, the motorist is at fault.

Check your blind spots carefully for motorcyclists. Motorcycles are obviously much smaller than cars and trucks and are much easier to miss when changing lanes or making a turn.

Allow more distance when following a motorcycle than you would another vehicle. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recommends enough distance to account for three or four seconds of time.

The most important safety tip of all applies to both motorcyclists and motorists; don't drink and drive. Sober up before you get on your bike or behind the wheel. In 2008, there were 13,846 fatalities from driving accidents where alcohol was a contributing factor. This accounts for 37 percent of all driving related fatalities.

Texas has the highest number of alcohol related fatalities — 1,463 in 2008, almost half of all driving fatalities in the state.