Authorities warn of holiday driving dangers

Horry County, SC (WMBF) As thousands of Carolina drivers take to the roads this weekend, police will be out in full force looking for intoxicated drivers.

Jeff Benton, Public Information Officer for the Horry County Sheriff's Office, says law enforcement will conduct DUI and safety checkpoints throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

"Our coalitions going to be out working hard to be sure that the families that are out traveling, wherever you may be going or coming from, are safe," Benton says.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol says during Thanksgiving weekend last year, there were 97 vehicle collisions in our area; 7 caused by DUI.  Authorities also issued 59 citations for driving under the influence.

But intoxicated driving is not the only thing police are worried about.

"Distracted driving is certainly a main issue, things such as texting, using the cell phones," Benton says.

A new study by State Farm Insurance found that the number of drivers using the Internet on their phone has nearly doubled in the last 3 years, creating a big distraction for drivers.  Benton says police are also concerned about tired drivers, which can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.

"I would just say to folks don't take a chance," Benton says.  "We have an extra long weekend, and if it takes an extra day of rest or another couple hours of rest, please do so."

South Carolina Highway Patrol doesn't keep statistics on how many accidents are caused by exhaustion or distracted driving, but regardless, Benton says law enforcement is pleading with drivers to use common sense so everyone gets home safe.

"Not only are you endangering the lives of you and your family could be out here, everybody's families will be out here on the roadway also," Benton says.

According to South Carolina Highway Patrol, one person was killed in a vehicle accident during the Thanksgiving holiday in our area.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.