Thanksgiving is a time for traveling and the South Dakota Department of Public Safety wants citizens to get to their destinations safely.

The Thanksgiving Day holiday period is expected to be a busy travel period. Public Safety officials encourage motorists to obey all the rules of the road – especially to slow down, don’t drink and drive, don’t get distracted by electronic devices and for all vehicle drivers and passengers to wear seat belts.

This year’s 102-hour Thanksgiving Day Holiday Period for reporting motor vehicle traffic crashes starts at 6 p.m. today, and ends at midnight Sunday, December 1st.  Last year during the same safety period, there were 279 motor vehicle crashes resulting in three fatalities and 35 injuries. Two of the fatalities were not wearing seat belts.

As is tradition, the Highway Patrol will conduct an “Operation Safe” today in an effort to encourage those already out on the roads to be careful.  Troopers also will be out on the roads through the holiday weekend as well, enforcing traffic laws and encouraging people to be careful.  

  Weather also could be a factor this year. Officials encourage motorists to watch for possible changing weather conditions and to pack a winter safety kit. Travelers should stay updated with the latest forecasts and check road conditions by calling 511, clicking on downloading the state DOT’s 511 app on a smartphone or other electronic device. 

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