Heavy traffic expected for Memorial Day Weekend

With the Memorial day  weekend here, the South Dakota Highway Patrol emphasizes the importance of travel safety.

Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Casey Collins says state troopers will be highly visible and actively engaged in traffic enforcement and crash reduction efforts.

The Highway Patrol says drivers should slow down, pay attention, wear a seatbelt, and be sure to drive sober. 

This year’s Memorial Day crash reporting period starts at 6 p.m. Friday and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday. During the 2023 Memorial Day holiday period, there were 254 reported traffic crashes, two fatalities and 77 injuries. 

Highway Safety Office director Robert Weinmeister says many of those fatalities involved drivers and passengers who were not wearing seatbelts. Alcohol and speeding continue to be major contributing factors in fatal crashes. 

AAA forecasts that 43.8 million people will travel 50 miles or more, the second busiest ever for Memorial Day traffic. Of that, 38.4 million are expected to drive, a national record.

AAA spokesperson Shawn Steward says South Dakota’s forecast reflects those numbers, with the total number of trips expected to be up about four percent.