According to reporting from thestate.com, new government data suggests that South Carolina highways are among the most dangerous in the country. On July 1st, 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its annual report on national traffic accidents. The report covered the previous calendar year (2015). Once again, the data does not reflect well on the safety of roads in South Carolina. The state does much worse than the national average in almost every safety related category.
South Carolina Car Accidents: What Do The Numbers Say?
The NHTSA report found that car accident fatalities across the country were up by a little more than seven percent in 2015. This is as compared to the statistics from 2014. The southeast in particular did not fare well, as fatalities were up by nearly 10 percent. Worst of all was South Carolina, which saw a more than 16 percent rise in vehicle fatalities in 2015. Beyond seeing a much greater increase than the rest of the country, this is especially worrisome because South Carolina was already one of the bottom states for traffic safety. This means that in 2015 the gap has continued to grow. The report also included some other noteworthy traffic safety numbers:
- 977 fatal car accidents occurred in South Carolina in 2015, up more than 150 over 2014;
- Many thousands more suffer very serious injuries, also increasing over 2014;
- Per 100,000 residents, South Carolina now has the sixth highest car accident fatality rate in the country, including the second highest east of the Mississippi River;
- Per vehicle mile travelled South Carolina now has the highest car accident fatality rate in the entire country;
- 60 percent of fatal auto accidents involved a single car, with the other 40 percent involving multiple cars; and
- 33 percent of all fatal South Carolina car accidents involved a drunk driver.
How to Fix the Problem
Part of the reason why accident fatalities are up is low gas prices, which encourage more drivers to use the road. Another factor in South Carolina’s poor ranking is the state’s high prevalence of rural roads, which tend to be more dangerous. While the state may not be able to do anything about those factors, there is action that can be taken. In fact, after reviewing the new data, South Carolina law enforcement officials have noted that accident injuries and deaths can be dramatically reduced by focusing attention on three general areas. These being: seatbelts, sobriety, and distracted driving. Improvements in each area could help reduce the human cost of car accidents.
- Seatbelt usage: All occupants should wear a seatbelt every time the car is put into drive. This simple action alone can substantially reduce the risk of a devastating injury in the event that an accident occurs. Everyone must recognize the unfortunate reality that a car accident could occur at any moment. A seatbelt will provide vital protection. In South Carolina, seat belt usage has improved significantly in recent years, but there is still more to be done. Federal data shows that 90 percent of South Carolinians report that they use their seatbelt on almost every ride. A decade earlier, this number was only at 75 percent. On this metric, South Carolina is one of the fastest improving states. Still, the remaining 10 percent gap must be closed.
- Drunk driving: While South Carolina has improved significantly when it comes seatbelt usage, drunk driving still remains a tremendous problem. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that South Carolina’s DUI fatality rate is more than twice the national average. It is not a coincidence that the gap between the state and the nation on DUI traffic deaths is similar to the gap between the two when it comes to traffic deaths as a whole. This is because such a high percentage of overall traffic accidents involve drunk drivers. Drunk drivers are far more likely to get into accidents, especially very serious accidents. All ages are at risk for drunk driving, but the data shows that those between the age 21 and 34 are much more likely to drive while intoxicated. Further, males are twice as likely to drive while drunk than are females. If you have been injured in an accident with an intoxicated driver, it is particularly important that you consult with an experienced drunk driving accident attorney immediately.
- Distracted driving: Finally, distracted driving has become an increasingly significant safety threat on South Carolina roadways. In fact, law enforcement officials have noted that they believe that this is the single biggest reason why accident fatalities may be on the rise this year. Distracted driving has always been a risk. After all, operating an automobile is inherently risky and it requires a driver’s undivided attention. There has always been issues with drivers taking their attention off of the road. However, the use of cell phones and other handheld electronic devices has made distracted driving an even more prominent concern. Far too many drivers have convinced themselves that they can take their attention off of the road if they only do it for a few seconds at a time. This is simply unsafe behavior. Whether it is sending a text, checking an e-mail account or looking at social media, all are unsafe and they put other people at high risk. Even looking down for a second or two will reduce your reaction time, and it could lead to a serious accident. Remember, distracted driving is negligent driving. If you have been injured by a distracted driver, you need to take immediate legal action.
Contact an Experienced Charleston Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you have been injured as the result of the negligence of another driver, you deserve full and fair compensation. An skilled Charleston, South Carolina car accident lawyer can help you hold the responsible driver accountable for the damage that they have caused. Please do not hesitate to contact our car accident injury legal team today to set up a free review of your case. We represent car accident victims throughout Lowcountry of South Carolina, including North Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Walterboro.