2019 expected to set state record for lowest number of fatal crashes

PIERRE, S.D.(Dakota News Now) – State officials say that South Dakota is projected to have recorded the lowest number of motor vehicle fatalities in state history during 2019.

To date, 102 roadway fatalities have been recorded for 2019. Since the department began keeping records in 1947, the previous low was 111 fatalities in 2011.

South Dakota Department of Public Safety Secretary Craig Price announced the preliminary numbers during Tuesday's presentation at the House Transportation Committee meeting. While final numbers may still change, officials believe the 2019 final numbers will establish a new record low.

Price said South Dakota continues to be among the nation’s leaders in states with the lowest five-year average for motor vehicle fatalities. He added that the state’s safety efforts have been aided by the fact that the public is making better driving choices coupled with enhanced vehicle safety and road designs.

“Our Office of Highway Safety uses programs like Lesson Learned and the Jim Reaper safe driving campaign to encourage drivers to slow down, wear seat belts, and not drive impaired,” Price said. “Meanwhile the Highway Patrol and local law enforcement enforce traffic laws and uses their contacts with the public to stress safe driving. We are trying to encourage safe driving behaviors, and that requires action from all of us.”

In 2018, the state recorded 130 fatalities.