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Traffic injuries, fatalities fall dramatically at Sturgis

STURGIS (AP) -- Traffic-related injuries and fatalities at this year's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally were down dramatically from a year ago, when the 75th annual event attracted record crowds.

STURGIS (AP) - Traffic-related injuries and fatalities at this year's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally were down dramatically from a year ago, when the 75th annual event attracted record crowds.

The Highway Patrol reported 50 injury accidents and a record-low three deaths during the seven-day rally that wrapped up Sunday, down from 124 injuries and a record-high 15 deaths last year. Non-injury accidents and arrests for driving under the influence also were down this year.

A record 739,000 people attended last year's landmark rally. This year's attendance hasn't been released, but traffic counts as of Friday were down 40 percent from 2015, state Transportation Department spokeswoman Kellie Beck told the Capital Journal.

"Last year, there were like a million people out there. It was nuts," rally-goer Jackie Griffin told KELO-TV. "This year it's not too bad."

Many vendors reported a big drop in business, blaming smaller crowds.

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"We had to slash prices this year just because of the turnout," T-shirt vendor Brian Blaine told KOTA-TV. "We went from $55 a shirt all the way to $15.99 a shirt. We took a big hit on sales."

Vendor Robert Huddleson told KEVN-TV that it's getting harder for small vendors to compete with big companies, and this was his last rally.

"I would love to come back, but I'm not going to put up with the hassle anymore," he said.

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