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2019 Expected to Set State Record for Lowest Number of Motor Vehicle Fatalities

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Public Safety (DPS) today announced that South Dakota is projected to have recorded the lowest number of motor vehicle fatalities in state history during 2019.

To date, 102 roadway fatalities have been recorded for 2019. Since the department began keeping records in 1947, the previous low was 111 fatalities in 2011. 

DPS Secretary Craig Price announced the preliminary numbers during today’s presentation at the House Transportation Committee meeting. While final numbers may still change, officials believe the 2019 final numbers will establish a new record low. 

“We are encouraged to see our safety messages and enforcement efforts having a big impact across South Dakota,” said Price. “Alongside this good news, though, we remember that even one roadway death is too many. We will continue working to develop our safety protocols and communication strategies in order to continue driving this number down.” 

South Dakota continues to be among the nation’s leaders in states with the lowest five-year average for motor vehicle fatalities. Secretary Price said the state’s safety efforts have been aided by the fact that the public is making better driving choices coupled with enhanced vehicle safety and road designs.

“Our Office of Highway Safety uses programs like Lesson Learned and the Jim Reaper safe driving campaign to encourage drivers to slow down, wear seat belts, and not drive impaired,” the Secretary said. “Meanwhile the Highway Patrol and local law enforcement enforce traffic laws and uses their contacts with the public to stress safe driving. We are trying to encourage safe driving behaviors, and that requires action from all of us.” 

Secretary Price said those efforts will continue in 2020.

“It is a new year, so we start over again,” he said. “Our message is simple – make the right choices every time you get behind the wheel.”

In 2018, the state recorded 130 fatalities.

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