State leaders urge caution on the roads during busy Thanksgiving travel week

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety is issuing a reminder for travelers to be safe on the roads ahead of the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel week.

During the holiday travel period last year, there were 279 crashes in South Dakota, according to the Highway Patrol. Three of those resulted in fatalities, two of which involved people not wearing seat belts. 35 other accidents resulted in injuries.

Highway Patrol Col. Rick Miller said troopers will conduct "Operation Safe" Wednesday, an annual patrol where extra troopers will be on the roads to encourage people to drive safely.

“We know people are anxious to get where they are going; but it doesn’t mean anything if something tragic happens along the way,” Miller said. “It is not just about being safe drivers getting to your holiday destination, but also when you are traveling to other activities during the holiday period and then returning home. Whether traveling just a few blocks or several hundred miles, staying safe is a must.”

Weather also could be a factor this year. The latest forecasts calls for snow Tuesday and Wednesday and even more snow after Thanksgiving and into next weekend.

So far this year, there have been 94 motor vehicle fatalities compared to 116 at the same time last year.