Buckle Up Phones Down Sioux Falls makes continued push to end unsafe driving habits

Buckle Up Phone Down Sioux Falls has been pushing it’s message in the city since last October, on trying to curb distracted driving and encourage seatbelt usage
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 5:36 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Buckle Up Phone Down Sioux Falls has been pushing it’s message in the city since last October, on trying to curb distracted driving and encourage seatbelt usage. It’s now looking to expand it’s scope by bringing in new partners.

MORE: Sioux Falls campaign aims to curb unsafe driving habits

For the first time in over 20 years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is pushing a distracted driving and seatbelt awareness campaign. With a local grant to the South Dakota EMSC, their goal is to start a grassroots campaign to change the habits of drivers in Sioux Falls.

“There have been a few other pilots around the country, but this is the one we’re most excited about. The only one in this region right now that is truly going to make a difference to people all across the state. We hope that it does spread to other communities, and cities and towns in South Dakota,” NHTSA Region 8 Administrator Gina Espinosa-Salcedo said. “It’s been a very long time since we’ve been able to partner with you on the national level, on the state and regional level, and a very special thanks to the City of Sioux Falls for bringing this to your community. Because this really does show an incredible community commitment across the board to save lives, and to do something as simple as buckling a seatbelt.”

The campaign is meant to be something that businesses or organizations can share with their staff, or for individuals to do on their own. By taking the pledge and downloading the app, drivers will be reminded to practice good driving habits every time they get behind the wheel. That message is music to the ears of first responders.

“More times than now, you’ll see somebody on their phone. It’s become such a cultural norm where we’re always with our devices, always holding our devices. It really takes a commitment to make that change.” Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum said.

“We’re a reactionary force, they can only do so much. It’s about each individual taking the accountability to first of all reduce the likelihood that you’re in that accident.” Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Matt McAvearey said.

The campaign states that 10 percent of fatal crashes in Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties involved a distracted driver. In both counties, more than 60 percent of occupants killed in a crash weren’t wearing a seatbelt. Those numbers are backed up by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, and they’re more than excited about this effort to change driving habits.

“That’s reduce or prevent injuries before they occur. So I can’t commend the team enough on how well and how excellent this program is, and how we’d love to continue to propagate that through our region.” American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma State Chair Dr. Mike Person said.

Organizers said that this campaign for Sioux Falls is meant to eventually become something that can have a statewide impact, whether by encouraging visitors to Sioux Falls to take the pledge and download the app, or by launching an entirely new campaign aimed at the whole of South Dakota.