The first two months of 2014 have been deadly on South Dakota roads.

The State Department of Public Safety says 24 people have been killed in crashes since January 1, and 12 of them were not wearing seat belts.

Department officials say the highway death toll at this time last year was 13.

Frequent snowstorms get some of the blame, but Highway Safety Director Lee Axdahl says "It is difficult to accept the fact that some people still get behind the wheel and don't take the simple precaution of buckling up.''

Other factors include alcohol and speeding or over-driving road conditions in bad weather.

Axdahl cautions drivers to make smart choices, such as not drinking and driving, buckling up, obeying speed limits and "treating the task of driving a vehicle as the most important job you have.''