GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The state of South Carolina has the highest traffic fatality rate in the nation, according to a Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study.
Troopers with the state’s Highway Patrol told 7News there are numerous factors that contribute to that statistic, but five repeat offenders stand out.
Corporal Joe Hovis with the South Carolina Highway Patrol said the first four things are what he calls the four fatal. The first one is speeding.
“Most people struggle with doing the speed limit here in the state of South Carolina,” said Hovis.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 73-percent of all traffic collisions are speed related.
“They ride your back end of your bumper and they speed,” said Vivian Moore. “Us old folks, we’re doing 50 and they’re always passing us up at 70 and 80. They break the speed limit and awful.”
Hovis said the second thing is distracted driving.
“If you are texting and driving it’s not a question of if, but rather when you’re going to be in a collision,” Hovis explained. “So do yourself a favor and do everybody else a favor and put the phone down and drive without being distracted.”
Corporal Hovis said it takes about five seconds to look at a text while driving. He added that in that time, if you’re traveling 65 miles per hour, you’ll travel about the length of a football field and a half or approximately 450 feet.
“I ask people all the time would you go down the interstate at 60 miles per hour and close your eyes?” he asked.
The Department of Insurance reports South Carolina averages about two crashes every hour involving a distracted driver.
“Lots of distracted driving, speeding, using their phones when they should be paying attention,” said RJ Feith.
The third thing on the list Corporal Hovis said is seatbelts.
“Almost 50-percent of people who die on our roads here in South Carolina who have access to seatbelts choose not to wear those seatbelts,” said Hovis.
He added if you’re in a collision and you have your seatbelt on, you have an 88-percent chance of surviving a crash.
“A lot of people who get killed are within three to four miles of their home because it’s comfortable for them,” Corporal Hovis said. “It’s a familiar surrounding. And they’ll take those seatbelts off and a lot of people lose their lives just for that fact. So keep the seatbelt on.”
Number four, Hovis said, is driving under the influence.
“Unfortunately almost half of all of our deaths here in the state of South Carolina are alcohol-related,” Hovis said. “That’s really a staggering number, even in teenagers.”
With today’s technology, Corporal Hovis said there’s no reason drivers shouldn’t plan accordingly while drinking to arrange for a proper ride home via by Uber, Lyft, or having a designated driver.
And number five, is vulnerable roadway users.
“Your pedestrians, your bicyclists. I group the motorcycles in there too,” Hovis said. “Most people that get out there on the highway, they’re just not looking for motorcycles. They’re not looking for those folks on bicycles.”
He said make sure to be on the lookout, especially when traveling down more heavily populated parts of the metro areas.
Corporal Hovis said Highway Patrol’s target is always zero deaths. While acknowledging it is big goal, he adds it is attainable as long as South Carolina drivers obey the laws, pay attention, and buckle their seatbelts.