Public Safety officials urging caution on state’s roads

PIERRE, S.D. (Press Release) – A recent string of eight vehicle deaths in a four-day period this month has South Dakota Department of Public Safety officials once again urging people to be careful on the state’s roads.

Officials say the deaths occurred in six different crashes statewide. The time period was Saturday, Sept. 15 to Tuesday, Sept. 18.

“The early part of September has not been kind so far with at least 10 recorded motor vehicle fatalities, which is double the amount of fatalities for the same month last year, “ said Lee Axdahl, director of the state Office of Highway Safety. “We are hoping for a safer final portion of the month.”

Axdahl said the crashes have ranged from single-vehicle rollovers to multiple-vehicle crashes. Preliminary investigations have indicated that some of the crashes may have resulted from speed or alcohol. It also appears that at least some of the victims were not wearing seatbelts.

“As these families face their personal tragedies of losing one or more loved ones in a violent motor vehicle crash, we need to be mindful that most of the crashes we hear about could have had a different outcome,” said Highway Patrol Col. Rick Miller. “That’s why it is so important to develop good driving habits ahead of time. Slow down, don’t drive impaired or distracted, and buckle up.”

In spite of the recent high number of fatalities, South Dakota is still tracking at this time to end 2019 with less than 100 roadway fatalities for the first time ever. But Axdahl said the recent tragedies is a reminder that safe driving must be priority all of the time.

“It happens in the blink of an eye and nobody wants to be remembered as a traffic statistic” Axdahl said. “Almost all highway fatalities can be preventable if drivers of all ages understand the need to be safe and we encourage them to do so.”

The Office of Highway Safety and Highway Patrol are part of the Department of Public Safety.