PIERRE, S.D. – Thanksgiving is a time for traveling and the South Dakota Department of Public Safety wants citizens to get to their destinations safely.
The Thanksgiving Day holiday period is expected to be a busy travel period. DPS officials encourage motorists to obey all the rules of the road – especially to slow down, don’t drink and drive, don’t get distracted by electronic devices and for all vehicle drivers and passengers to wear seat belts.
“Alcohol and speed remain the top reasons for motor vehicle crashes in South Dakota and almost 54 percent of this year’s fatalities involved people not wearing seat belts,” says Col. Rick Miller, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “It just takes one bad decision to impact many people and families.”
This year’s 102-hour Thanksgiving Day Holiday Period for reporting motor vehicle traffic crashes starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27, and ends at midnight Sunday, Dec. 1. Last year during the same safety period, there were 279 motor vehicle crashes resulting in three fatalities and 35 injuries. Two of the fatalities were not wearing seat belts.
As is tradition, the Highway Patrol will conduct an “Operation Safe” Wednesday in an effort to encourage those already out on the roads to be careful. Col. Miller says troopers also will be out on the roads through the holiday weekend as well, enforcing traffic laws and encouraging people to be careful.
“We know people are anxious to get where they are going; but it doesn’t mean anything if something tragic happens along the way,” Miller said. “It is not just about being safe drivers getting to your holiday destination, but also when you are traveling to other activities during the holiday period and then returning home. Whether traveling just a few blocks or several hundred miles, staying safe is a must.”
Weather also could be a factor this year. The latest forecasts calls for snow Tuesday and Wednesday and even more snow after Thanksgiving and into next weekend. Col. Miller encourages motorists to watch for possible changing weather conditions and to pack a winter safety kit. Travelers should stay updated with the latest forecasts and check road conditions by calling 5-1-1 or clicking onto http://www.safetravelusa. com/sd/.
So far this year, there have been 94 motor vehicle fatalities compared to 116 at the same time last year.