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DPS Says Safety Important Part of Holiday Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018

Contact: Tony Mangan, Department of Public Safety, 773-6196



DPS Says Safety Important Part of Holiday Season


PIERRE, S.D. – Officials of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety remind people to be careful this holiday season – both on the road and at home.


With Christmas on a Tuesday this year, traffic is expected to be busy this weekend and into Monday.  Not only will the Highway Patrol have troopers out on the highways, but the Patrol also will be conducting 24-hour saturation patrols from 6 a.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Saturday.


“The saturation patrols are part of our goal to get impaired drivers off the road,” says Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the Highway Patrol. “As always, no matter what time of year, we will focus on driving behaviors that lead to crashes while also working on enforcement for seatbelt use and DUIs.”


This year’s Christmas holiday reporting period for motor vehicle traffic crashes spans 102 hours, beginning at 6 p.m. Friday and ending at midnight on Tuesday, Christmas Day. Last year, there were two fatalities during the Christmas reporting period (one a pedestrian and the other a driver) and 30 other motor vehicle injuries.


“It is easy with so many things going on to forget about staying safe while driving,” says Highway Safety Office Director Lee Axdahl. “But one mistake – getting distracted by your electronic devices, drinking and then driving, not wearing your seatbelt or not slowing down – can lead to a regrettable Christmas for many. Be a focused driver and save the celebration for later.”


Holiday safety extends to the home as well. State Fire Marshal Paul Merriman says home fires are more prevalent during the holidays.


“With more lights, more candles, more cooking and more fireplaces being used, the chances of a home fire increase at this time of the year,” Merriman says. “Use holiday lighting safely, never leave burning candles unattended, practice cooking safety, and have a working smoke alarm on each floor, every sleeping area and each bedroom in the home.”


DPS officials also encourage the public to be aware of possible changing weather conditions later this week. Those planning to travel should watch for latest forecasts and check road conditions by calling 511 or at https://www.safetravelusa.com/sd/.  If traveling, practice safe driving techniques and pack a winter safety kit.