New DPS Artwork Encourages Drivers to Avoid Distractions


South Dakota’s Department of Public Safety Thursday introduced a different way to encourage South Dakotans to put down their cell phones while they drive.

A sculpture, commissioned by the DPS Office of Highway Safety, features 250 recycled cell phones located in 250 small coffins. The artwork represents the 250 drivers killed or injured in distracted driving related crashes in South Dakota during 2021. The sculpture was unveiled Thursday at the Sioux Empire Mall in Sioux Falls.

DPS Cabinet Secretary Craig Price with the artwork.

“A top priority for the Department of Public Safety and its agencies, such as the Office of Highway Safety, is to promote safe driving and decrease the number of crash related fatalities in South Dakota,” said DPS Cabinet Secretary Craig Price. “This sculpture is a different and unique way to do that.”

The sculpture was designed by Sioux Falls artist Nichole Cross of Composite LLC. The artwork is estimated to weigh about 200 pounds, stands more than 4 ½ feet and is six feet long. The recycled cell phones were donated by Secure Enterprise Asset Management, Inc. (SEAM Services) of Sioux Falls.

“Distracted driving is a problem not only in South Dakota, but throughout the nation,” said Office of Highway Safety Director Amanda Kurth.  “While this sculpture focuses on the danger of being distracted by cell phones, there are other distractions, such as talking to a passenger or changing the dial on the radio, that can cause you to lose focus and result in a serious crash.”

Funding for the sculpture was provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through a federal grant designed to reduce traffic crashes resulting in death and injury.

The artwork will remain in the Sioux Empire Mall for nine weeks and then will be moved statewide to various public events.