Holiday travelers enjoy mild weather conditions, SDHP urges safe driving

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - A record number of Americans will be traveling coast to coast this holiday season. According to AAA more than 115 million people will travel by train, plane or car. South Dakota officials are urging safe driving on South Dakota interstates.

Year after year traveling during the holidays gets even crazier with the number of people trying to get to their final destinations.

The highways and airports are crowded more than ever, but the South Dakota Department of Public Safety is urging all traveling by car to be defensive drivers.

"Just be a defensive driver and watch for the other drivers around you," South Dakota Highway Patrol Sergeant, Steven Schade said.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol is keeping drivers safe this holiday season by monitoring South Dakota’s highways and interstates so families can arrive at their final destinations.

"The traffic seems to be up this year for the holidays with nice weather. I think people are taking advantage of it and getting out and going to all those different activities," Sergeant Schade said.

The southeastern part of the state is seeing fog on Christmas day which is limiting visibility.

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety has recorded 30,445 car accidents across the state this year from January 1 to December 15.

Of those, 75 drivers were killed and over 3,500 were injured. A majority of those crashes happened in Minnehaha and Pennington County, the most populated areas of South Dakota.

"Be prepared. We live in South Dakota and the weather is ever-changing. While it may look nice in one place and you travel to another place the weather may be totally different," Sergeant Schade said. "Usually this time of the year we have more snow and ice and that obviously has a problem with people and their travels but this year we've been blessed with some nice weather. It's helped with the holiday travel so this year probably not as bad as years past."

Troopers are urging all to buckle up. At least 40 people so far have died this year in a car accident due to not wearing a seatbelt.

"It’s part of the whole system. Sometimes people get the misconception of I’ve got airbags in my car so I don't need the seatbelt," Sergeant Schade said.