December 18, 2017
PIERRE, S.D. – In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the South Dakota Department of Public Safety reminds people to remember to be safe as well.
With so much happening, DPS officials say it is easy to forget about being careful. Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the Highway Patrol, says for those people traveling during the holidays, they will see more troopers out patrolling highways.
“Our same safety reminders are as important now as they are during the rest of the year,” Price says. “Slow down, focus on your driving, don’t drink and drive, and wear your seatbelt. These four factors are consistently reported as contributing factors in many of the crashes the highway patrol investigates.”
Last year, there was one motor vehicle fatality during the Christmas holiday and two during the New Year’s period. Since Sept. 1, there have been 37 motor vehicle fatalities in South Dakota and 24 of them were not wearing seatbelts. Highway Safety Office Director Lee Axdahl says a happy time can change quickly if someone is not wearing a seatbelt during a vehicle crash.
“Too many families this holiday season will have a loved one missing from around the Christmas tree or the dinner table,” he says. “Don’t add to that sad list. Wear a seatbelt no matter how far you travel, get to your destination safely and make it a memorable season for all the right reasons.”
Holiday safety is also important at home as well. State Fire Marshal Paul Merriman says home fires are more prevalent during the holidays.
“With more lights, more candles, more cooking and more fireplaces being used, the chances of a home fire increase at this time of the year,” Merriman says. “Use holiday lighting safely, never leave burning candles unattended, practice cooking safety, and have a working smoke alarm on each floor, every sleeping area and each bedroom in the home.”
DPS officials also encourage the public to be aware of possible changing weather conditions later this week. Those planning to travel should watch for latest forecasts and check road conditions by calling 511 or at http://www.safetravelusa.com/sd/. If traveling, practice safe driving techniques and pack a winter safety kit.