South Carolina’s Highway Patrol said nearly 1,000 people died on South Carolina roads last year, an increase over 2017 but fewer than two years ago.
The Department of Public Safety said 990 fatalities were reported on state roadways as of midnight on Tuesday. The agency emphasized those numbers are preliminary.
Agency spokesman Capt. Kelly Hughes believes that is much too high, especially he said many of the deaths were avoidable. “Too many people take driving too lightly,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “You still see too many people driving 20-30 miles per hour over the speed limit, not wearing their seatbelt, not being attentive.”
More than half of the confirmed victims who had been riding inside a car, truck or SUV were not wearing their seatbelt, according to DPS data. While it’s too early to calculate 2018, Hughes said about one-third of South Carolina’s vehicle fatalities died in collisions where at least one driver was legally intoxicated.
“That number is really high when you compare us to other states,” Hughes said. “We definitely have an issue with people being behind the wheel while impaired not just with alcohol, but with drugs as well.”
South Carolina in 2017 had the second-highest rate of DUI fatalities in the country, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with 6.22 impaired driving deaths per every 100,000 people. That rate was almost double the national median at 3.33.
Hughes said the Department of Public Safety is trying to increase awareness of the DUI dangers with its new “Drink, Drive, Die” campaign.