Sioux Falls campaign aims to curb unsafe driving habits

Through social media and an app that people can download, Sioux Falls Buckle Up Phone Down...
Through social media and an app that people can download, Sioux Falls Buckle Up Phone Down hopes to break those bad driving habits.(Dakota News Now)
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 5:04 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Wednesday morning’s crash at a restaurant along Minnesota Ave. not only resulted in the driver of the vehicle being charged with reckless driving, it almost caused another accident along the road.

“The vehicle tried to flee the area, and then drove across all lanes of traffic and almost hit another vehicle. It then crashed into another wall down there.” said SFPD Lt. Robert Forster.

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Those types of close encounters are something that many in Sioux Falls are reminding people to look out for, by protecting themselves and staying aware. Sioux Falls Buckle Up Phone Down started as a spinoff from a successful state campaign in Missouri. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wanted to see it they could replicate the results at smaller level, with the partnership of state and local organizations.

“NHTSA wanted to take the program from the state level, and see if it could be produced and effective at a more cellular level.” said Emily Pogue, Program Specialist and Trainer at South Dakota EMS for Children.

Pogue said the campaign aims to reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths due to distracted or unrestrained drivers. According to the campaign, 67 percent of car occupants killed in a car crash in Sioux Falls aren’t wearing their seatbelt. And in Lincoln and Minnehaha counties, more than one in ten fatal accidents involved a distracted driver.

“It has to do with the fact that cell phones are now so accessible and available to us, they do so many fantastic things, they basically run our lives,” Pogue said. “So we’re not just seeing from a younger group, who might not have the experience yet or the understanding of mortality. It’s every age group, young and old across cultural lines, across kind of any sort of line.”

Through social media and an app that people can download, the campaign hopes to break those bad driving habits. If it’s successful at reducing accidents, injuries and deaths in the area, they hope to expand it statewide.

“When NHTSA says that they want to see this work, if it can work at a city level, they’re looking to see if we can affect change with those Sioux Falls specific numbers,” Pogue said. “We are having an outreach that impacts more than just the Sioux Falls community. Whether they’re coming here to work or to play. So it’s really great in that way. We have people coming over from Iowa and Minnesota, and other places from within South Dakota.”

Pogue said if they can even get one person to stop looking at their cell phone, and be more aware of their surroundings when they’re on the road, then she says their mission was successful. You can find more information about the campaign here.