Study: South Dakota ranks highest per-capita in fatal impaired accidents over Thanksgiving

A new study shows that the Mount Rushmore State leads the nation per-capita in fatal impaired driving accidents over Thanksgiving.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:24 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Drunk and impaired driving is something that law enforcement is always on the lookout for. A new study shows that in the Mount Rushmore State, the days from this Wednesday to the following Monday are some where South Dakota leads the nation in fatal drunk driving accidents.

Nationwide, over 49 million people are expected to travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday this year. That’s up from 2022. But in South Dakota, drivers on the road will have to watch out for more than just traffic jams.

The car insurance saving app Jerry released a new study that shows that over the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend, South Dakota has the highest per-capita number of fatal accidents linked to drinking.

That number sits at about 0.8 people per one hundred thousand every year, from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data from 2012 to 2021.

The study also found that more than half - at about 57 percent of all fatal accidents in South Dakota over the same time period involved drinking - more than double the national average.

Sioux Falls Police Department spokesperson Officer Sam Clemens said if people are planning on drinking over the holiday, they should plan out how they can safely get a ride.

“The best thing people can do is just to not drive impaired. There’s just too many risks to driving impaired. The best thing they can do is to get a ride with a sober driver, whether it’s family or a friend. Ridesharing, taxi, it doesn’t really matter. Just don’t drive impaired,” Clemens said.

Clemens said officers will be just a vigilant about looking out for drunk and impaired drivers like they usually are on days not falling on the holidays. And they’re asking other drivers to do the same.

“The best thing you can do is if you see an impaired driver is to call 911. You can get all of that information, hopefully we can get an officer to that area quickly. But that’s the best thing. Sometimes, people follow them and give updates. There’s really no reason for that. The main thing is just reporting that to police right away,” Clemens said.