Sheriff’s Department urges Caution with Traffic Increase
A noticeable boom in summer travel has swept across western South Dakota, bringing welcome revenue to the area’s vital tourism industry. Along with this business come all of the unplanned events which are inevitably a part of a traveler’s itinerary.
Last week the Pennington County Courant sat down with Pennington County Deputy Sheriff William Christopherson to discuss what this means for public safety on the I-90 corridor.
Christopherson explained that the increase in visitors is marginal this year, and is especially noticeable for his department on Highway 240 between Wall and Badlands National Park. An early estimate for traffic into the park sits somewhere near 200%, and if the season follows the annual trend next month may be even busier.
With this heavier highway traffic, there has also been a noticeable increase in calls for service, road hazards involving debris, vehicle vs. deer collisions, and motorist assists which usually involve mechanical issues or tire failure.
Deputy Christopherson did not indicate that these issues were more prevalent compared to the usual ratio of motorists passing through, but statistics gathered throughout the summer will likely paint a clearer picture when they are available.
Although the things which local drivers can do to stay safe on the road are the same as they would usually be, busy road conditions are a good time to remind drivers that we need to be vigilant and alert on the highway. Wearing seatbelts, refraining from using cellular devices while driving, paying close attention to posted speed limits, and exercising caution when driving through construction are all required by law, and abiding by these rules is the best way to stay safe.
Another important tip offered by Christopherson is to call for assistance sooner rather than later if you experience vehicle trouble on the highway. “Most vehicle assists start because we see people pulled over and stop to help. If you feel unsafe, call right away.” Less time on the shoulder leaves less time for unfortunate events to occur. When experiencing car trouble on the highways making sure to pull away from the outer line, and turning on your hazard lights are also important steps in dealing with the situation safely.