If you’re on your way to Sturgis, please wear a helmet

Every year at this time, I shake my head in astonishment at the number of motorcyclists who ride without a helmet.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is underway South Dakota, which means that Interstate 90 and some other highways are packed with bikers headed to the Black Hills. It also means that, unfortunately, the accompanying annual spate of traffic accidents involving motorcycles has begun. The rally just began today, but where I live in Mitchell — about 300 miles east of Sturgis — a motorcycle rider already has lost his life in an accident. He wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Helmets can’t prevent all deaths, of course, but consider this statistic from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety: In 2008, 15 people died in motorcycle crashes in South Dakota. Eleven of those killed weren’t wearing a helmet.

"As fun as motorcycles are, you’re very vulnerable if you’re riding one," Major Randy Hartley, of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, said in a recent news release.  “The best protection for anyone on a motorcycle is a helmet."

I know, I know. People love the freedom of the open road, of having the wind blowing through their hair. Not wearing a helmet is part of the whole lore of the motorcycle lifestyle. I get it.

I’d just rather be alive than dead, and if wearing a helmet could help me achieve that, it seems like it would be an easy decision to wear one. 

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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