SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Last year, there were 250 deaths or injuries in South Dakota that happened because a driver was using their phone behind the wheel.

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety is hoping to remind people about the dangers of distracted driving through a public art display.

As you walk through the Empire Mall, you’ll see a new statue near Helzberg’s Diamonds and Santa’s Photo Experience. The statue was commissioned by the DPS Office of Highway Safety to publicize the dangers of distracted driving.

“It’s very telling when this represents the 250 people in South Dakota in 2021 that were either injured or killed on our highways from some form of distracted driving,” Craig Price with the South Dakota Department of Public Safety said.

250 cell phones each in their own coffin. On the front, an empty coffin to remind people their phone could be next.

“I think we would all be a little naive to think that it was only 250. A lot of times, we as law enforcement are the investigators in a crash can’t pin down what the cause of the distraction was. I think it’s safe to say that we know it’s more than 250 lives lost because of a cell phone distraction,” Robert Whisler, Captain with SD Highway Patrol, said.

Officers want to remind everyone it’s not just phones that can be a distraction though.

“Distracted driving is clearly a problem whether it’s cell phone related or a different object in the vehicle that has the driver taking their focus off of the important task of driving. We do see distracted driving accidents frequently,” Whisler said.

“When you’re driving, it’s the most important task that you could be doing to keep yourself safe and to keep other people safe that are driving down the highway beside you,” Price said.

The artwork will be in the mall for about nine weeks and then will travel to other locations throughout the state.