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Navigating South Dakota’s high-stakes roads

On Behalf of | May 6, 2024 | Firm News

South Dakota is known for its rolling prairies and the iconic Mount Rushmore, among other sites. Still, like other states, it also has less desirable features like treacherous roads. As we look at the state’s major highways, we’ll identify the dangers that lurk on these well-traveled routes.

Interstate 90: A dangerous economic backbone

Interstate 90 is the longest in America, cutting across South Dakota from east to west, connecting Seattle and Boston. This highway is the backbone of the country and state’s transport system, facilitating the movement of people and goods. Yet, despite its importance, I-90 has a startling number of fatal crashes and accidents, with the stretch between Rapid City and Sioux Falls being particularly notorious. Factors like high speeds, sudden weather changes, and wildlife crossings contribute to the road’s hazardous reputation.

Highway 16: Scenic yet unsafe

Highway 16 is another major thoroughfare, offering breathtaking views of the Black Hills. This road is not just a pathway to adventure for tourists; it’s also a common place for vehicle accidents, with the speed and blind turns making the Catron Boulevard and Highway 16 Intersection especially dangerous. The common causes of mishaps on Highway 16 are varied, ranging from distracted driving to the influx of vacationers unfamiliar with the winding roads. The increase in traffic during the summer significantly exacerbates these risks, making vigilance necessary for safe travel.

Custer State Park: A jewel with hidden dangers

Nestled in the Black Hills, Custer State Park is a gem in South Dakota’s crown of natural wonders. This park is not just a sanctuary for wildlife and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts; it also plays a crucial role in the state’s tourism industry. With popular attractions like Sylvan Lake and the Needles Highway, the park draws visitors from all over the globe. However, the very features that make the park enticing also present challenges. Narrow roads and wildlife on the move can surprise even the most experienced drivers, turning a leisurely drive into a test of reflexes.

Iron Mountain Road: A driver’s test of skill

Iron Mountain Road, with its spiraling pigtail bridges and granite tunnels framing the faces of Mount Rushmore, is an engineering marvel. This road is not merely a connection between Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore; it’s an experience in itself. While visually stunning, the road’s unique design includes features such as one-lane tunnels that carve through the mountain and the famous “pigtails” looped bridges that allow the road to climb rapidly. While these features make for an unforgettable journey, their sharp turns and steep grades can also be daunting and dangerous.

Drive safe, South Dakota

For those ready to explore the Mount Rushmore State, remember that the beauty of the journey is best enjoyed when paired with safe driving practices. Keep this in mind, and you’ll have a fantastic trip through South Dakota and hopefully return home with good memories to last a lifetime.