Agency RSS

South Dakota’s 2017 Traffic Fatalities Rise State’s Five-Year Trend Among Nation’s Lowest


Contact: Tony Mangan, Public Information Officer, 605-773-6196


South Dakota’s 2017 Traffic Fatalities Rise;

State’s Five-Year Trend Among Nation’s Lowest


PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota remains one of the leading states in the nation for the lowest number of traffic fatalities in 2017.  This, despite the fact that there were 13 additional fatalities on state roads from the previous year.


There were 129 traffic fatalities in South Dakota during 2017. That is up from the 116 reported in 2016, a year which saw the second lowest fatality total of all time.


“For most of 2017, we were actually on target to finish the year with fewer than 100 traffic fatalities for the first time in state history,” says state Office of Highway Safety director Lee Axdahl. “But in the last three months of the year, there were 42 additional fatalities which dramatically affected our expectations.”


Out of the 129 traffic fatalities, 101 were motor vehicle fatalities. There were 111 fatal crashes in 2017, compared to 103 in 2016.  


“The 2017 numbers are up, but we still have one of the lowest five-year fatality trends in the nation,” Axdahl says. “And, while even one traffic fatality is one too many, the numbers prove that South Dakota drivers are among the safest in the nation.”


Axdahl says the two biggest causes of roadway crashes remain speed and alcohol.  And, he says out of the 101 motor vehicle fatalities, 66 of those who died were not wearing seatbelts.


“We had many crashes this year where the victim would have survived had they been wearing a seatbelt,” Axdahl says. “Clearly the odds are in your favor when you buckle up.  Too many families were broken in 2017 because a loved one was not safely restrained in a crash.  The Office of Highway Safety, through both education and cooperative enforcement efforts, will continue to aggressively promote the need of wearing seatbelts during 2018.”


The Office of Highway Safety is part of the Department of Public Safety.