SCDPS marks rise in road fatalities in SC

by Sean Maginnis

SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) According to a South Carolina Department of Public Safety report released this week, fatalities on state highways are on the rise.

In the report released Monday, officials saw an increase of 10 fatalities in 2011 when compared with the same period of time in 2010. Additionally, officials saw five of the recent deaths occur within a three day span from Aug. 26 to Aug. 28.

Lance Cpl. Sonny Collins, spokesman for the South Carolina Highway Patrol, said a number of issues contributing to the problem include speeding, drunk driving, using cell phones while driving, drivers not wearing a seatbelt and pedestrians walking in the roadway.

According to the SCDPS, 63 pedestrians died on state highways in 2011, a marked increase from 2010. Collins said pedestrians walking on roadways may be the single biggest contributing factor to the increase in deaths overall.

"Late at night, [drivers] can't see the pedestrian until the last minute and it's important to realize as a pedestrian you are not allowed in the walkway," said Collins.

Collins said he hopes residents and visitors will avoid dangerous behaviors during the last week of what SCHP calls the "100 Deadly Days of Summer."  Historically, the 100 day stretch from Memorial Day to Labor Day sees the highest number of highway fatalities throughout the state.

SCHP is also in the midst of a campaign against drunk driving called "Sober or Slammer", geared at deterring drunk driving in the weeks leading up to Labor Day.

"Obviously there are a lot more eyes out there than we have, and we'll take any help we can get catching impaired drivers," said Collins.

Anyone who observes a drunk driver on the roadways is urged to contact the South Carolina Highway Patrol by dialing *-H-P on their cell phones.

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