PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota’s Department of Public Safety reminds motorists to be safe so they can make sure they remember this Thanksgiving holiday for all of the right reasons.
The 102-hour Thanksgiving Day Holiday Period for reporting motor vehicle traffic crashes starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday (tonight) and ends at midnight Sunday. It is expected to be a busy travel period and DPS officials urge motorists to slow down, don’t get distracted and for all vehicle drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts.
Already this year, there have been more than 100 vehicle crash fatalities with about a third of them occurring since September. About 66 percent of those fatalities involved people not wearing seatbelts.
“We have seen too many vehicle crash fatalities, especially in the last three months, involving people not wearing seatbelts,” says Lee Axdahl, director of the department’s Office of Highway Safety. “There are too many families who will not be enjoying Thanksgiving this year because of a missing loved one at the table. We don’t want to add to that number this week.”
South Dakota Highway Patrol troopers are conducting an “Operation Safe Thanksgiving” effort on Wednesday in an effort to encourage those already out on the roads to be careful. Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the Highway Patrol, says all available troopers will be on the road Wednesday and throughout the holiday weekend as well.
“Our safety messages are the same as always; wear your seatbelt, obey the speed limits, pay attention and don’t drink and drive,” Col. Price says. “Let’s watch out for each other so everybody can make it safely to their holiday destination.”
While weather is not expected to be a major factor this holiday, Axdahl and Price encourage motorists to watch for possible changing weather conditions just in case. They say travelers should check road conditions by calling 5-1-1 or clicking onto http://www.safetravelusa.com/sd/.
Last year, there were 191 motor vehicle traffic crashes in South Dakota during the Thanksgiving holiday. The crashes resulted in two fatalities and 28 injuries.