Spink County Coalition puts up new billboard in Redfield

"Has this caught your attention?"

Thanks to the generous donation of the use of their billboard, Vickie and Dan Appel have made it possible for the Spink County Coalition to design and put up this catchy sign on the intersection of Highways 281 and 212 across the street from Casey’s. The funds to purchase the billboard were a part of the State Highway Safety Grant the Coalition received, and the design for the billboard was created by Brian Slater Designs.

Spink County is ranked 13th in the state out of the 67 counties for total crashes with 259 incidents occurring in 2019. Clark County had 95, Hand-93, and Faulk-87 during that same time period. Spink County was fortunate not to have any fatal crashes in 2019. Twenty percent of those crashes happened on a Friday. Eleven of those crashes involved alcohol and 4 of them were a result of distracted driving.

The rate of highway fatalities, including alcohol-related fatalities, rises significantly during the annual Fourth of July holiday across the United States and even more so in South Dakota.

The rate of highway deaths during the Independence Day holiday travel period in the U.S. rises by 27% compared with comparable non-holiday time frames, and jumps by 46% in South Dakota, the study found. Meanwhile, the data analysis showed that alcohol-related driving fatalities jumped by 30% across the country and by 67% in South Dakota during the holiday period, the fourth-highest rate increase in the country.

Lee Axdahl, director of the South Dakota Office of Highway Safety, said summertime holidays such as the Fourth of July and the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends have a confluence of events that make roadway travel more dangerous than at other times. Particularly during the Fourth of July holiday, when local and non-local family gatherings are common, far more motorists are on the road overall and some may not be familiar with their surroundings, Axdahl said.

South Dakota crash data support the idea that impaired drivers are not only more likely to crash but are also more likely to die. In 2017, alcohol was a factor in only 5.6% of total crashes but played a role in 40.5% of fatal crashes. Fatal wrecks involving impairment were also concentrated in the 21-39 age group, with 27 of the 49 recorded alcohol-related deaths falling into that age range in 2017.

Axdahl said good decision-making by all who take to the road – those who imbibe and those who do not – is critical to reducing the risk of injury or death during the upcoming Fourth of July travel period that starts at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 7. Axdahl noted that his research shows that at any given time in South Dakota, one of 17 drivers encountered on the highway has a DUI conviction on his or her record.

“When you make bad decisions, you may not be the person that gets           seriously injured or killed in the crash, and it could be someone else or             someone else’s family,” he said. “These things happen in a heartbeat, and nobody wakes up and says today is my day.”                                                                                              -- Lee Axdahl, director of S.D. Office of Highway Safety

(information provided by Bart Pfankuch sdnewswatch.org-2019)

Here are 10 safe driving tips to follow for a safe 4th of July                                     from enddistracteddriving.org

  • Before leaving, ensure that your vehicle is in good working order. Get a tune up; check tire tread and pressure, oil and fluid levels, working lights and windshield wipers, etc.
  • Buckle up for safety. In the majority of accidents, seat belts save lives.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50%. Adults who live in rural areas are 10% less likely to wear seat belts (78% usage) than adults who live in urban and suburban areas (87% usage). Also, secure your infants and children in properly fitted car seats and booster seats.
  • Don’t drink and drive.  All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws defining driving impaired as a crime with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above a specified level, currently 0.08 percent (0.08 g alcohol per 100 ml blood). According to the CDC, one 12-ounce beer has about the same amount of alcohol as one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Drinking alcohol slows reaction time and impairs judgment and coordination, all skills needed to drive a car safely.  The more alcohol consumed, the greater the impairment. If you drink, don’t drive or make friends with a designated driver who does not imbibe. A 4-day weekend is not an automatic pass to drink and drive.
  • Observe speed limits.  Allow plenty of time to get to your destination. Most likely you will have to share the road with thousands of other drivers, road construction, and possible rain and summer storms, so get used to it. You’re not in a race. Speeders don’t win.
  • Stay alert. Take a break when feeling drowsy. Take advantage of rest stops. Drive defensively.
  • Put the distractions away. Don’t talk on your cell phone while driving. Worse, don’t text while driving. Both require focus. You can only do one well. Program your GPS prior to leaving or while stopped, never while driving. Ask your passenger to change the CDs. Comb your hair and apply makeup upon arrival at your destination never while driving. Don’t eat or open or close food packaging while driving. Other vehicles may be getting in your lane, turning, or slowing down. In-car distractions diminish your chances of driving defensively when you need to most. One or two seconds of distractions can negatively impact your life and the lives of others.

“Thousands and thousands die each year as a result of distracted driving on our nation’s highway,” urges Attorney Joel Feldman, father of a daughter who was killed by a distracted driver. “The death toll rises dramatically during summer months especially for young drivers.  We can all make a difference if we just remember to keep our hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and stop trying to multi -task while we drive.”

  • Load SUVs properly. When loaded down with additional weight—such as passengers, luggage, and equipment—SUVs become less stable. Compared to most sedans and station wagons, SUVs have a higher center of gravity. With the extra weight, which typically rides above a SUV’s center of gravity, the vehicle can tip over more easily.
  • Drive cautiously on rural roads. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), more accidents occur on rural roads than other venues.
  • Secure your pet. Most likely you wear a seatbelt. What about your dog? Cats and dogs should be secured in crates that are secured by straps or bungee cords in the event of a sudden stop. A loose pet or a hurling crate can crash through the windshield. Protect your 4-legged friends.
  • Act like your life depends on driving defensively. It does.

Don’t ruin your weekend or your life or that of someone else. Please be safe and have a wonderful 4th of July holiday!