South Dakota Highway Patrol says “be patient, be aware” of holiday traffic

RAPID CITY, S.D. –– Over 7,000 people will be travelling to the southern hills this Friday for Mount Rushmore fireworks. But plenty more tourists and locals are sure to be enjoying the Fourth of July weekend.

With the influx of traffic, even in the more rural areas, South Dakota Highway Patrol would like to remind people of a few traffic tips.

Maybe the first to remember, stay patient.

“The Fourth of July does see a huge increase in traffic that comes to the area so traffic is going to be a lot more congested especially in the area of Mt. Rushmore this weekend,” says State Trooper Louis Plunkett. 

But he also says you have to remain aware of your surroundings. A good example is keeping six feet or more from the vehicle in front of you.

“What you have to understand that with the increased traffic it is going to be a lot slower, a lot of stop and go and a lot of the rear end collisions is the person behind that did the rear ending doesn’t realize they were too close and didn’t realize the person ahead has slowed or stopped because they’re too close and they don’t have time to react,” says Plunkett.

And it’s not just drivers that need to aware. Being in attraction destinations, such as Keystone, can me a heavy foot traffic and bicyclists.

“And bicyclists, they can forget they have to follow the same traffic laws, so sometimes they’ll run stop signs,” Plunkett said. “Pedestrians, there are going to be a lot of them crossing the streets, so you’ve got to be extra patient with that and the pedestrians do have the right of way when crossing the street in legal areas.”

Also a reminder to avoid texting while driving. Being on a mobile device behind the wheel is a misdemeanor, starting Wednesday, July 1st, that is a minimum $125 fine.

And with a nice holiday weekend, some people may partake in drinking, but Highway Patrol says never before getting behind the wheel.

“When I encounter accidents the person is always telling me they didn’t expect it to happen or I wasn’t paying attention or I don’t know what happened because it’s something that happens so rapidly. It’s not something you can prepare for.” says Plunkett.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News, Traffic & Accidents