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South Dakota’s Safe Driving Habits Contribute to Low Vehicle Fatality Rate

February 2017

South Dakotans have reason to be proud and feel safer on the roads after the number of motor-vehicle deaths in the state decreased over the past few years. Most other states had an increased vehicle fatality rate, according to the National Safety Council, an organization that promotes health and safety throughout the United States.

That vehicle fatality figure was 116 in 2016, which was a 13 percent reduction from its 2015 number of 133. Only three other states had percentage decreases larger than that. The 2016 number was also 15 percent less than the 136 motor-vehicle deaths that had occurred within the state’s borders in 2014, the third-best percentage decrease in the country.

Officials in the Mount Rushmore State have attributed these encouraging trends to how dedicated its citizens are to drive sober, observe speed limits and use seat belts.

Unfortunately, the number of motor-vehicle deaths in the country as a whole increased 6 percent from 2015 to 2016 – 37,757 to 40,200 – and it went up 14 percent from 2014 to 2016 – 35,398 to 40,200.

South Dakotans can do their part to help the state’s numbers keep trending in a positive direction by making sure that they continue to engage in safe driving. 


  • Your focus should always be on driving. Any conversations with others in the car or listening to music or talk shows should always be a secondary focus.
  • Never use your cell phone. Pull over if you need to talk or text.


  • Before you drive, make sure that you know where you’re going, how you will get there and if and when you plan to take any breaks. This will help you stay alert and focused on the driving process.

Be Defensive

  • Be more of a reactionary driver. Observe what is happening, both right in front of you and a ways down the road, and react to it.
  • Anticipate unexpected things, like a car swerving in your lane or a person rushing into the street, so that you can more quickly respond to them should they occur.
  • Keep yourself at least two seconds behind the car in front of you, more if the road conditions are bad.

For more information on driving safely on South Dakota’s roads, contact the South Dakota Office of Highway Safety.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a serious car accident, contact the experienced injury attorneys at Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben. The personal injury law firm, which has its main offices in Minneapolis, represents accident victims in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Call 612-377-7777 or toll free at 1-800-752-4265 for a free consultation.

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