PIERRE – No matter how they celebrate the Fourth of July this year, South Dakota Department of Public Safety officials encourage people to also remember to be safe.
As always, Highway Patrol troopers will have a visible presence on the roadways. Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Craig Price says the goal is to keep people safe and help them safely arrive at their destination.
“Safe driving is important no matter what the day,” Colonel Price said. “We will continue to stress the same reminders we always do: Wear your seatbelt, follow speed limits, pay attention and use a designated driver if needed.”
This year’s Fourth of July traffic reporting period is from 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 3, to midnight, Wednesday, July 4. Even with the holiday on a Wednesday, DPS officials still expect more vehicles on the roads, heightening the chance of more vehicle crashes. During last year’s 102-hour holiday reporting period, there were 198 motor vehicle traffic crashes that resulted in three fatalities and 70 other people being injured.
“Even more frustrating was that none of the three fatalities were wearing seatbelts and almost half of those injured also were not buckled up,” says Office of Highway Safety director Lee Axdahl. “No matter whether it is a holiday or any other day, it still comes down to common sense; of protecting yourself and others. That goes not only for those driving vehicles, but motorcycles as well. ”
Another big part of the celebration is fireworks. Fireworks went on sale this past Wednesday, June 27, and can be sold through Thursday, July 5. Fireworks can be legally discharged through Sunday, July 8.
“Fireworks are fun to watch, but they can also be dangerous,” Fire Marshal Paul Merriam said. “Always remember that if not used properly, fireworks can hurt someone, damage a building or start a fire. We encourage people to read the instructions and always have water on hand just in case.”
Since some individual cities may adopt fireworks limits that are stricter than state law, Merriman suggests that citizens also check local ordinances and regulations first.