Driving in South Dakota as a northern state can apparently be more dangerous than many over states with a highway fatality rate almost 50% higher than the national average and 87% of all highway fatalities happening in rural areas. Car accidents in South Dakota are not generally due to traffic congestion but rather due to inattention on rural roads. As one of the least populated states with much of the state being rural, drivers need to be careful in these areas.
Urban car accidents have been discussed on most car safety sites, but few talk about how to be prepared for an accident in a rural setting. If you are in an accident on a desolate rural road with no one to assist you, being prepared can often mean the difference between life and death.
If you are involved in an accident in a rural area, one of the first things you should do is assess injuries and call for EMS services immediately. As they may be further away, you may also be required to provide first aid to those injured. Being prepared in a rural state, when you may be travelling rural roads includes being prepared for injuries without EMS arriving on scene immediately. Therefore you should always carry a cell phone when travelling in rural areas as well as a proper first aid kit and a cold weather kit. A cold weather kit should include flares, solar or warming blankets, candles and matches. On rural roads you will want to move vehicles from the flow of traffic to avoid causing a secondary accident as well. If the accident is minor, be sure to find out if any property damage was caused and attempt to find the owner.
“Slight” Comparative Negligence
South Dakota is also the only state that has a “slight modified comparative negligence” system. Instead of pure comparative fault or modified comparative fault systems, in South Dakota it is up to the juries to decide if you were only “slightly negligent” in order to also receive compensatory damage awards. In this system “slight” is not actually defined and so it could be 10-20% fault as determined by juries. This system is more similar to a pure comparative fault than a modified 50 bar rule system because if you are found more than “slightly” also at fault as the plaintiff you will receive no compensatory damages. It might be wise to consult a car accident attorney to ensure that you can meet the terms of “slight” before proceeding in court.
12 & 22 Point Thresholds
South Dakota’s driving record demerit point system tracks your traffic violations and hands out license suspensions if you receive 12 points or more within 12 months or 22 or more points within 24 months. A DWI is 10 points whereas a stop sign or traffic light violation is 3 points.
DUI Complete Charges
Did you know that at just 0.05% BAC and simply sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with keys in the ignition, with the vehicle off and parked, you could still be charged with DUI in South Dakota? DUI charges in South Dakota carry mandatory license suspensions, restricted driving periods after the charges, mandatory substance dependency evaluation and programs in conjunction with fines, imprisonment and sobriety programs. A third offense in South Dakota for DUI is a felony as is any subsequent offenses. Reinstatement of a license revocation from DUI also can require you to retake vision, knowledge and road skills testing again, reinstatement fees and proof of an SR-22 (financial responsibility certificate).