The largest biker party on the planet kicks off Friday, and the Wyoming Highway Patrol is reminding all motorists to be extra vigilant.

Roughly half a million people are expected to roll into Sturgis, which means more motorcyclists on Wyoming's roads.

“Motorists and motorcyclists need to share the road and be aware of each other,” said Lt. Kyle McKay.​

Wyoming has already seen 13 motorcycle fatalities this year, and averages about three motorcycle fatalities during Sturgis alone.

McKay says the patrol will be increasing enforcement in the northeast part of the state to ensure the safety of all drivers.

“We’re looking for impaired driving, distracted driving, unsafe passing and following too close,” he said. “We look for seat belt violations, child restraint violations and anything that we deem as unsafe.”

The following are safety tips motorists and motorcyclists can follow:

Motorists should:

  • Stay alert when they see a motorcycle's turn signal activated. Motorcycle turn signals can be non-canceling, which means the rider may have forgotten to turn it off. Before proceeding, motorists should make sure the motorcycle is turning.
  • Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
  • Be extra careful at intersections. A driver should look for other motorists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and bicyclists before proceeding through the intersection.
  • Allow a greater following distance behind a motorcycle. Give about a three-to-four-second following distance. That will give the motorist more time to maneuver or stop behind a motorcycle in an emergency.

Motorcyclists should:

  • Wear high-visibility clothing, a helmet and other safety protection when driving.
  • Keep their headlight on to provide them with even more visibility.
  • Check their motorcycles to ensure they are safe for the road.
  • Know local traffic laws.
  • Obey traffic lights, speeds and signs.
  • Commit to riding alcohol and drug-free.​​

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