The Highway Patrol reports 734 people died on Palmetto State roads trough Dec. 30. That is down from 830 over the same point last year, according to the agency records. South Carolina has not had this few deaths since 1982, according to state records researched by The State newspaper. However, U.S. Census data shows roughly 1.5 million more people living in the state since the early 1980s.
Trooper David Jones is crediting that to better enforcement and more public awareness of safe driving. “In South Carolina, our three deadliest killers are speed violations, DUI, and unrestrained drivers and passengers. That’s what we’ve focused on heavily over the past year,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “As a result of that, we’ve seen our numbers drop.”
He said an increased PR campaign on the dangers of the road known as “Target Zero” has reached a larger audience. Jones said he believes tougher restrictions on DUIs have also contributed to a decline in alcohol-related deaths.
Jones said Department of Public Safety officials want to drop that number even further. For example, he pointed out that 269 motor vehicle passengers who died this year were not wearing seatbelts. That accounted for over 55 percent of fatalities in that category.
“If you’re seven times more likely to survive a collision by having your seatbelt on, that’s over 100 more lives we could’ve saved,” he said.
To this point, 89 pedestrians and 113 motorcyclists have died on state roads. While the number of pedestrian deaths is down slightly from 115 last year, motorcycle fatalities inched up from 109 in 2012.