More people died on South Carolina roads in 2012 than in 2011. It was the second consecutive year with a year-to-year increase.
The state Highway Patrol’s current reports show 833 deaths on South Carolina highways and roads last year, compared with 827 deaths in 2011. The number of deaths is well below the peak of 1,052 people killed on the state’s roads in 2007. The increase in 2011 had snapped three straight years of declines.
The year-over-year increase is relatively surprising to state officials because, as recently as November 12, the number of highway deaths had been 38 fewer than the same point in 2011. Department of Public Safety director Leroy Smith had hoped an increased trooper presense during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays would lower a spike than began in mid-November. However, the agency reports 65 people died on South Carolina roads in December, the highest for that month since 2007.
A big reason for the increase appears to be in pedestrian deaths. 117 pedestrians were reported killed in 2012, compared to 114 the year before and 89 in 2010.
Troopers say 554 of the people killed were in vehicles. 58 percent of them were not wearing seat belts. Drunken driving data will not be available until later this year, troopers say.
Greenville County reported the most deaths with 65, followed by 51 deaths in Richland County and
48 deaths each in Lexington and Spartanburg counties. However, on a per-capita basis, the highest fatality rates were in Calhoun, Colleton, and Jasper Counties. Union County only reported a single roadway death in 2012.
Jay Harper contributed to this report