CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – This year was less deadly on South Carolina roads than during the pandemic, according to preliminary data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.
With just days left to go in 2022, 946 fatal traffic accidents have been reported in South Carolina, resulting in 1,015 deaths which is 180 fewer deaths compared to 2021.
In fact, the number of people killed on South Carolina roads is at its lowest point since 2019, but does not meet the record low of 809 deaths set in 2010.
Here are the total number of traffic fatalities for the past five years:
- 2017: 989 deaths
- 2018: 1,036 deaths
- 2019: 1,006 deaths
- 2020: 1,067 deaths
- 2021: 1,195 deaths
July was the deadliest month on the roads with 106 fatalities followed by October with 102 fatalities.
But, Lance Cpl. Nick Pye of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said one fatality is too many and the department is putting more troopers in high-crash areas in the hopes of getting that number down to zero.
“We are drastically down and we are thrilled to see that, but we still want to make sure that we’re doing everything in our power to reach our goal of Target Zero.”
The data indicates there were, on average, at least two fatal crashes per day statewide this year, down slightly from 2021’s average of about three fatal crashes per day.
While a number of factors can contribute to a traffic fatality, officials said the most common are speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence.
“When you mix those three things with individuals not wearing their seatbelt, we’re going to continue to have these fatal crashes,” Lance Cpl. Pye said.
More than half of the passengers involved in a fatal traffic accident this year were not wearing their seatbelts. Of 672 passengers who had access to a seatbelt, 359 were not wearing one.
“Wearing your seatbelt will never prevent a collision from happening, but wearing a seatbelt can forbid you from being injured or lose your life when someone does make a bad decision,” Lance Cpl Pye said.
Charleston County has had 62 traffic-related deaths to date this year, the third-highest in the state, behind Greenville County and Horry County at 95 and 70 respectively.
There were 43 traffic fatalities reported in Berkeley County and Dorchester County had far fewer with 19 deaths.
The number of pedestrians killed as a result of crashes—168 people— was fewer than in 2021 which saw 188 pedestrian fatalities.
In addition, fewer bicyclists (21) and motorcyclists (137) were killed on South Carolina roads this year than the previous year at 23 and 157 people respectively.
Heading into the New Year, Lance Cpl. Pye reminds South Carolinians that Highway Patrol can always be reached at *HP (*47) if drivers face an issue on the roads.
Full traffic data for 2022 can be found on the South Carolina Department of Public Safety dashboard.