South Dakota’s Highway Patrol has reinforced its efforts to encourage more motorists to wear their seatbelts.
When conducting a traffic stop, Highway Patrol troopers will issue a seatbelt citation to all unrestrained occupants in accordance with state law and in addition to enforcement action on the primary traffic violation. The new directive began Wednesday, December 7.
Col. Craig Price, the superintendent of the Highway Patrol, says nearly 72 percent of the Patrol’s 9,000 contacts with those not wearing seatbelts in 2015 resulted in a written citation. Price says this is part of an increased statewide effort to heighten awareness about the need to wear seatbelts.
“One of our main objectives is to encourage more people to wear their seatbelts,” he says. “In the last five years, 62 percent of all South Dakota fatalities in motor vehicle crashes were not wearing seatbelts. That is way too many.”
Seatbelt education and enforcement continue to be major goals for the Department of Public Safety, which has partnered with the Department of Health on the statewide effort. Lee Axdahl, director of the Office of Highway Safety, says both departments are working together to increase seatbelt usage.
“Nobody gets up in the morning thinking this will be their last day,” Axdahl says. “We want to use this effort as a way to urge more people to buckle up so they can get home safely to their loved ones.”
The Highway Patrol and Office of Highway Safety are both part of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.