February 17, 2017
PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota had the nation’s fourth lowest motor vehicle fatality rate in 2016, according to a national organization.
The National Safety Council says in its annual report released this week that the number of motor-vehicle deaths in the United States during 2016 totaled 40,200, an increase of 6 percent. But South Dakota’s 116 traffic fatalities was a decrease of 13 percent from the state’s total of 133 fatalities in 2015.
At the same, South Dakota’s fatality rate from 2014-2016 was the nation’s third lowest, dropping by 15 percent in that time period.
“These numbers are very encouraging especially since many other states are seeing increases in their vehicle fatality totals,” says Lee Axdahl, director of the state Office of Highway Safety. “Our goal now is to keep this trend going in the right direction.”
State officials say the drop in traffic fatalities is due to cooperative efforts by safety groups, law enforcement and the public. Three areas that continue to be prioritized are urging people to use seatbelts, follow speed limits and to drive sober.
“These are safety messages that we continually stress with the public.” says Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the state Highway Patrol. “It’s significant that while the total number of miles being driven in South Dakota is trending up, the number of fatalities is trending down. It is about keeping people safe.”
Both Axdahl and Price say their offices continue to look at ways through promotional messages and educational efforts to encourage more motorists and passengers to take safety precautions whenever they travel.
The Office of Highway Safety and the Highway Patrol are part of the Department of Public Safety.