BELGRADE - Nearly one million motorcycle riders will travel this week to the world's largest motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.
According to recent data, riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than ever.
“Nothing better than riding a bike,” said Jerry “Two Chairs”, who is the showroom supervisor at Yellowstone Harley Davidson.
Carson Weigel and “Two Chairs” — employees at Harley Davidson in Belgrade — have been riding motorcycles since they were 15 years old.
Even though Weigel and “Two Chairs” love riding, they also recognize the risk. They have even had their own scares while riding.
“Something can happen in the blink of an eye,” said Weigel. “If you don’t react in time, it’s game over.”
Two Chairs said he’s had a lot of people pull out in front of him and cut him off while he is riding his motorcycle.
“I’ve just learned to be more defensive,” said Two Chairs.
Robert Bhatt with Farmers Insurance says motorcycle fatalities in Montana have increased by 26% since 2019 and there have been 75 fatalities on Montana highways this year.
The most recent motorcycle fatality occurred in Beaverhead County on Montana Highway 42 where a 27-year-old man from Dillon crashed head-on into a vehicle.
As the world’s biggest motorcycle rally kicks off this week in Sturgis, Weigel says riders should be cautious, especially because Sturgis is known to have over 700,000 people in attendance.
Weigel says large crowds and nighttime driving can be a recipe for disaster.
There’s a lot of people not paying attention and disregarding that there could be a motorcycle right next to them,” said Weigel. “And nighttime just speaks for itself.”
The director of Montana Motorcycle Rider Safety, Jim Morrow, says defensive driving is key for riders to be safe. He also says inattentive drivers on the road have become a huge problem.
“I hate to say it, but ride like you’re invisible,” said Morrow. “Other drivers might not be looking out for you.”
Montana Motorcycle Rider Safety teaches classes to improve riding skills in every defensive manner, such as braking and swerving. To enroll, you can visit motorcycle.msun.edu.
“If I could give any advice, I would say always know what’s going on around you and ahead of you,” said Two Chairs.