According to a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, road fatalities were up by 7.7% across the nation in 2015. However, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that South Carolina’s motor vehicle fatality rate increased by nearly twice that amount, up over 15% from 2014’s roadway fatality rate.
According to preliminary numbers reported by South Carolina officials, the total number of roadway fatalities in 2015 was 977, which is an increase of 154 deaths over 2014 numbers of fatalities resulting from auto crashes. Increases in deaths were seen across the state, with 74 deaths in Spartanburg County. Nearly every category of accident saw increases in 2015: passenger vehicle, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents all saw a jump, although fatal bicycle accidents remained steady.
A number of reasons have been cited by safety officials for this increase in deaths on the road, one of which was a reduction in the number of South Carolina state troopers on our state’s roads. While the agency reports that the ideal number of state troopers would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 950 to 1,000, the number of full-time troopers sunk to 760 in 2015. Once a new class of troopers completes the current session of the Highway Patrol academy, their ranks will increase to 841. A greater presence of state troopers tends to result in a reduction in speed and greater attention paid to the laws of the road, which results in safer driving.
Additionally, state authorities point to a failure to use seatbelts as a leading cause of fatalities from motor vehicle accidents. Nearly half of those killed in accidents on South Carolina roads were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Excessive speed for the current conditions was cited as another leading cause of roadway deaths, as was drunk driving, distracted driving, failing to yield to oncoming vehicles, and pedestrians walking or laying down in the road, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol. The majority of the roadway deaths in South Carolina occurred on rural roads, which tend to be narrower and less well-lit. “Correctable mistakes aren’t as correctable,” said a spokesperson from AAA describing the dangers of rural roads. “A tiny mistake can end up being a huge mistake or even a fatal one.” Finally, lower gas prices are cited as a major contributor to the increase in road fatalities, due to an increase in total miles driven.
If you have been injured or suffered the loss of a loved in a South Carolina car accident, contact the compassionate, knowledgeable, and trial-ready Columbia personal injury lawyers at Peake & Fowler for a consultation on your case, at 803-788-4370.