The South Carolina Highway Patrol announced Wednesday it will create a new 24-trooper team that will specifically work South Carolina’s deadliest road corridors in an attempt to reduce crashes in those areas.
Col. Michael Oliver said the new “Target Zero Team” is the latest step under South Carolina’s “Target Zero Deaths” program.
“Our concept was simple: the only acceptable number of traffic deaths in our state is zero,” Oliver told reporters during a Columbia press briefing. “We believe that the loss of even one life is one life too many.”
Department of Public Safety records show 527 people have died along South Carolina roads this year through July 28. While that is down from levels seen five years ago, it is still far higher than last year’s 446 fatalities during the same time period.
“The primary focus of this 24-trooper team will be focusing on the violations that are leading causes for fatalities in collisions in our state,” Oliver said. He added those three factors are alcohol use, speed, and lack of a seat belt. While troopers will enforce other traffic violations (such as texting while driving), Oliver said the team is being told to focus on those core three.
The 16 “high crash” corridors are predominantly commuting routes in urban areas, such as Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach, Interstate 385 south of Greenville, and Interstate 26 northwest of Charleston.
The Department of Transportation is paying for the new troopers through its own budget. The structure is similar to an existing SCDOT-Highway Patrol partnership that pays for troopers to patrol road construction sites along South Carolina’s busiest highways.