Busy Memorial Day weekend travel means higher accident risk

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 5:34 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Memorial Day weekend travel is back to full strength after the last three years dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. But that means more folks on the road, and a higher risk for accidents.

“A lot of traffic that’s going to be on the road this weekend. We just want it to be an incredibly fun and festive weekend, and do so without any major crashes or anything like that,” Sioux Falls Police Department Lt. Andrew Seibenborn said.

South Dakota as a whole sits on the higher end when it comes to Memorial Day fatal accidents.

A new study from car insurance savings app Jerry shows that the Mount Rushmore state has the second most fatal accidents per capita during the holiday weekend, behind West Virginia and ahead of third-most North Dakota. On an average Memorial Day Weekend, over two South Dakotans out of 100 thousand people will die in a traffic accident.

Alcohol was also involved in 61 percent of all fatal crashes when a BAC test was conducted.

AAA Public & Government Affairs Manager Rylie Mansuetti said the holiday weekend also kicks off the deadliest time of the year for teenage drivers nationwide.

“Memorial Day kicks off the 100 deadliest days of summer for teen drivers. They are out on the roads more. We see an increase overall in drivers of all ages with impaired driving or distracted driving during this time of year,” Mansuetti said.

Mansuetti said peer pressure can work both ways, and says stepping in to stop someone from getting behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking could save a life.

“So we really urge drivers to think twice before driving impaired, before drinking and driving. Always have a plan in place if you do decide to partake in those activities. Also, that extends to drugs as well, even if they’re legal and prescribed to you, or other substances,” Mansuetti said. “If you see someone that is impared, and they are about to get behind the wheel, it is cool and it is okay to tell them that it’s not a smart idea to drive right now and to find an alternative solution.”