Roadways: Shared responsibility

Motorcycle traffic increases

Jess Oaks
Posted 7/5/24

GOSHEN COUNTY – With the rumble of the 84th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally approaching, the number of motorcycles on Wyoming highways and byways will be steadily increasing, and sharing the …

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Roadways: Shared responsibility

Motorcycle traffic increases


GOSHEN COUNTY – With the rumble of the 84th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally approaching, the number of motorcycles on Wyoming highways and byways will be steadily increasing, and sharing the roadways appropriately could save someone’s life. 

“Motorcycling is a family affair for us,” motorcycle rider, Logan Dailey, explained. “I have been riding on my own for the past 17 years. I have traveled thousands of miles through just about every type of terrain.”

Dailey explained the most essential piece of advice he can offer the general public is to look for motorcycles. 

“Most people do not see motorcycles prior to a collision. They look right past them or right through them, if you will, as they are not looking for the minor signature of a bike at an intersection,” Dailey said. “Instead, they are looking for the more significant signature of a car or pickup truck. The brain is programmed to look for a vehicle at intersections, and if one has not been around motorcycles or has an interest in them, they won’t see the bike often.”

Roadways are shared spaces and accidents are more likely to take place when drivers fail to recognize others on the roadways. 

“A lot of it falls on the responsibility of the person on the motorcycle,” rider Erin King explained. “A huge part of being a rider is safety and awareness. It is a shared road so it’s like on the one hand the commercial drivers need to be aware of what we call the four-wheelers (cars, trucks, etc.) on the ground, but at the same time, it is the four-wheeler’s responsibility to stay in my mirror so I can see you. It is a shared responsibility and it is the same thing between cars and motorcycles,” King said. 

King has been riding for eleven years but unfortunately, her work schedule and guidelines keep her from getting too many miles under her belt. 

“Drivers have a responsibility to look more than once,” King said. “Motorcyclists have a responsibility, you are invisible how do you make yourself visible? So, it is a dual responsibility.” 

Operating a motorcycle is a fun sport for many, however, King expressed the importance of understanding just how serious the sport is. 

“[In] the motorcycle community, we refer to it as ‘serious fun’,” King explained. “It is fun to be on a motorcycle. It is a 360-riding experience, so you see, smell, and feel and it’s a whole different world. ‘Serious,’ because there is a tremendous amount of risk. A tremendous amount of risk.”

According to King, there are many different types of motorcycle enthusiasts but it all boils down to whether they take the sport “seriously”. 

“You have these, ‘I’m going to speed through this zone,’ or ‘I’m going to pass vehicles in non-passing zones,’ or ‘I’m going to pass more than one vehicle at a time,’ or ‘I’m going to exceed the speed limit.’ We call it, ‘out running my headlights,’ when you’re running at night and you’re going faster than your headlights can see so you smack a deer. Or maybe you’re going too fast for road conditions. You’re going when you’re tired. Sturgis, you’re going under the influence of alcohol or drugs – those are the people who aren’t taking it seriously,” King explained. “They are kind of asking for it at that point.”

Dailey agreed with King, expressing the importance of taking a proactive approach to defensive driving and being prepared for others on the roadways.

“On multiple occasions, I have pulled up to an intersection, made eye contact with the driver, and then had that driver immediately pull out in front of me when I proceeded into the intersection,” Dailey explained. “Operation Lifesaver, a railroad safety education agency, uses the motto, ‘Look. Listen. Live.’ This exact phrase can be applied to motorcyclist safety. Looking for motorcycles and listening for motorcycles could save a life.”

King explained there is truly a difference between an accident and a crash, reflecting on last year’s double fatality accident on US Highway 85 involving two out-of-state motorcyclists traveling home after attending the bike rally. 

“You have that awareness (the crash on US85), and that’s the bummer. We refer to everything as a ‘crash’ not an ‘accident’. The reason why is because, if you look at that instance where the truck wiped out the motorcycle, there was something the truck could have done differently to avoid that from happening,” King explained. “If I am riding down in Florida, on my motorcycle, and a coconut falls off a tree and whacks me in the head, well, that’s an accident. There is nothing I could have done to prevent that. If I am riding up in the Tetons and the road gives way, and all of the sudden I get sucked off the abyss off of a cliff, there’s nothing I can plan ahead for a sinkhole. That’s an accident and that’s a bummer.” 

King expressed, the odds are pretty slim of survival for those riders who don’t take the sport ‘seriously.’

“Most accidents are crashes which could have been avoided,” King explained. “There are multiple reasons why crashes occur. Like we were talking about, people didn’t look both ways before entering the intersection, people were going too fast for conditions.”

King emphasized, taking riding seriously and always looking over your shoulder while driving could save someone’s life.

Ultimately, staying safe this summer all boils down to following the rules of the road, both riders expressed. 

“There is nothing to be scared of; you have to be cautious when driving around others,” Dailey said. “My dad used to always tell me to ‘drive for everyone else on the road.’ In other words, take a proactive approach to defensive driving and be prepared for what the other motorists may do.”