HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - The latest numbers coming in from South Carolina Department of Public Safety shows Horry County tops the rest of the counties in traffic fatalities so far this year.
A study from A Secure Life, a home and personal security website, released in July ranked Highway 17 as the state’s most dangerous highway for summer travel. State troopers also added that Highway 501 and Highway 544 are the most congested areas on the roads, which can lead to a higher risk of accidents in general.
As of Oct. 6, 2019, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reports 738 people have died on highways in our state.
In Horry County, 62 people have died in crashes. At this time in 2018, the agency reported that there were 51 deadly wrecks. The most recent crash happened on Tuesday night in the Loris area. This places Horry County at the top of the list with the most deadly wrecks reported so far this year than any other county.
Cpl. Sonny Collins with South Carolina Highway Patrol said there are a number of factors that could be behind the uptick in deadly wrecks. He pointed out that Horry County typically ranks in the top five around the state, just by sheer volume of travelers that visit every year for major events like Bike Week and Carolina Country Music Festival. He noted with the increase of visitors in the area, the risk of traffic collisions rise as well as fatalities.
The number of motorcyclist and bicyclist deaths in the state have also gone up from last year. Collins said out of the 62 traffic fatalities in Horry County, highway patrol reports 10 of those were pedestrians and 12 of those fatalities were DUI related.
“So, when you start looking at various causes, speeding will always be a major contributor but then when you start looking at other things such as DUI, pedestrians in the road, those type of occurrences, that’s when you start seeing your fatalities go up when you do see a spike in those trends such as that. So that’s something we combat every day, we look at those changes and see exactly what’s causing the crashes, what we can do, whether it’s sending troopers to a certain part of the county, whether it’s looking for those violations, it’s an ongoing process that we look at daily,” said Collins.
Now that we're noticing cooler temperatures, more people will be out and about taking advantage of the nice weather. That's why troopers stress drivers and pedestrians to take extra precautions while out on the roads this time of year.
“It's driver responsibility. When you get in your car, you need to make sure that you're being responsible to wear your seatbelts, that you're obeying the speed limit, you're putting the distractions down, you're not drinking and driving, you're not speeding. These crashes, the road is not causing the crash, it’s the driver’s actions on the road. So, when we look at reducing fatalities, we have to look back at the driver's seat and we all have to do our job every day to make sure that our commute’s safe... and if we will all do that, then those numbers will go down because everybody's driving behavior becomes better,” said Collins.
With Halloween approaching at the end of October, highway patrol will focus on pedestrian safety as we move through the rest of the month.
For any concerns out on the roads, call *HP.