South Dakota crash fatalities increased by 38% in 2020

Fatalities on South Dakota roadways increased by more than a third in 2020, according to numbers released by the Department of Public Safety.

South Dakota recorded 141 motor vehicle fatalities from 132 crashes in 2020, according to yearly numbers released Wednesday.

The number of fatalities in 2020 was 38% higher than the 102 fatalities recorded in 2019. The 2019 total was the lowest in state history since records have started to be kept in 1947. The number of fatal crashes in 2019 was 88, also a record low, the release said.

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DPS Secretary Craig Price said while South Dakota has been one of the nation’s leaders in the states with the lowest five-year average for motor vehicle fatalities, the 2020 total is the state’s highest since 2007. He said the department plans to increase its safety and enforcement efforts, according to the release.

“Our efforts have worked in past years and we will continue our safety messages through the Office of Highway Safety and enforcement efforts between the Highway Patrol and local law enforcement,” Price said in the release. “Even one motor vehicle death is one too many and we plan to encourage driver safety.”

The three main factors associated with motor vehicle fatalities in 2020 were speed, alcohol use and not wearing a seat belt, the release said. So far in 2021, fatality numbers are up compared to the same time in 2020 and those three factors are involved in most fatal crashes again this year.

“As the number of vehicle miles continues to increase in South Dakota, it is even more important that we work to change driver behavior,” Price said. “We plan to work with all of our partners to stress our basic safety message: ‘Slow down, pay attention, drive sober and always wear a seat belt.’

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

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