Safety urged during Memorial Day holiday weekend

PIERRE, S.D. (Press Release) – South Dakota Department of Public Safety officials are urging drivers to make sure this Memorial Day holiday is remembered for all of the right reasons.

This weekend’s Memorial Day holiday is considered the start of the summer travel season. That means with more people on the highways, there is an increased risk of roadway vehicle crashes.

“Especially with the hard, late winter we had this year in South Dakota, many people are anxious to get out on the roads in good weather and travel,” says Office of Highway Safety Director Lee Axdahl. “But it is important for drivers to remember they are not the only ones on the road. They need to always be careful, watch for others and most importantly wear their seatbelts.”

This year’s Memorial Day crash reporting period starts at 6 p.m. Friday local time and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday local time. During the 2018 Memorial Day report, there were 112 total crashes, 25 injury crashes, 35 people injured and one fatality.

As of Monday, May 21, there have been 19 vehicle fatalities so far this year compared to the 43 fatalities at the same time in 2018. Fatal crashes also are down from 35 last year to 17 so far in 2019.

South Dakota Highway Patrol troopers also plan to be out on the highways, making sure motorists are obeying the law. One focus will be seatbelt use.

“Troopers will be out throughout the holiday weekend, making their presence known,” says Highway Patrol Major Rick Miller. “We know people are anxious to get where they are going for the holiday, but it does not do anyone any good if they don’t get there safely.”

Gov. Kristi Noem, along with state and local law enforcement officers, will stress a similar message Friday at a Safe Summer Driving event starting at 11 a.m. at the Sioux Empire Mall.

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