November 7, 2017
PIERRE, S.D. – After 29 vehicle fatalities in the last two months, South Dakota Department of Public Safety officials are again stressing the need for driver and passenger safety.
Preliminary numbers include 15 fatalities in September and 14 in October. So far in November, there have been three confirmed fatalities statewide.
The September-October fatalities occurred in 26 fatal crashes –13 reported in each month. Motor vehicle crashes accounted for 23 of the fatalities while the other six involved motorcycles or pedestrians. Of the 23 motor vehicle fatalities, 16 were not wearing seatbelts.
“Too many fatalities, too many families grieving,” says Office of Highway Safety Director Lee Axdahl. “Many of these fatal crashes didn’t have to happen if people paid attention to driving and most importantly wore seatbelts. It is about protecting you and others.”
Statistics indicate that 10 of the fatal crashes occurred when vehicles went off the road and rolled. Nine people died after being ejected from their vehicle; most because they were not wearing seatbelts.
“Until you have to a respond to a scene like that, you don’t understand the devastation such crashes cause,” says Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “It is not only traumatic for the families, but also for the first responders who rush to the scene. If you are buckled in, you have a better chance to survive if your vehicle rolls.”
With two months left, the state’s fatality count is still behind last year’s total which was 116, the second lowest in the state’s history. With winter weather and the holidays approaching, Axdahl and Price encourage people to, among other things, slow down, don’t drink and drive, don’t get distracted by electronic devices and wear seatbelts.
“This is all about common sense,” they said. “It is about knowing that when you are driving, the only thing you should be focused on is driving.”