Driving in South Dakota is a relativity safe thing to do according to the latest numbers. Last year, South Dakota had the country's fourth lowest vehicle fatality rate.

The National Safety Council says in its annual report that South Dakota’s 116 traffic fatalities in 2016 was a decrease of 13 percent from the state’s total of 133 the year before. The number of motor-vehicle deaths in the United States during 2016 totaled 40,200, an increase of 6 percent.

State officials say the drop in traffic fatalities is due to cooperative efforts by safety groups, law enforcement and the public.

“These numbers are very encouraging especially since many other states are seeing increases in their vehicle fatality totals,” says Lee Axdahl, director of the state Office of Highway Safety. “Our goal now is to keep this trend going in the right direction.”

Three areas that continue to be prioritized are urging people to use seatbelts, driving the speed limit and to driving sober.

“These are safety messages that we continually stress with the public.” says Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the state Highway Patrol.  “It’s significant that while the total number of miles being driven in South Dakota is trending up, the number of fatalities is trending down. It is about keeping people safe.”

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