Even though traffic fatality rates have fallen by 23 percent across the nation since 2005, a new study has found that those rates can vary from region to region.
In particular, states in the Northern Plains and the South, including South Carolina, may be the most dangerous places to drive in the country, according to the study.
Prepared by Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the study compared fatalities per billion miles traveled and deaths in car accidents per 100,000 in the population in each state and Washington, D.C.
In comparing numbers compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2005 to 2012, Sivak found that the nation’s capital and Massachusetts are the safest places to drive.
South Carolina, on the other hand, was one of the three deadliest states for motorists in America, according to the study. It tied West Virginia with 17.6 traffic deaths per 1 billion miles traveled, compared to 4.2 in the District of Columbia and 6.2 in Massachusetts, according to the study.
South Carolina also finished in the bottom 10 for number of fatalities per 100,000 people. It had 18.27 traffic deaths per 100,000 from 2005 through 2012, according to NHTSA figures. In comparison, D.C. had only 2.4 traffic deaths per 100,000 people during the study period, while Massachusetts totaled only 5.3 deaths per 100,000.
Why Is South Carolina’s Traffic Fatality Rate So High?
Sivak’s study did not delve into the potential reasons for the high traffic fatality rate on South Carolina’s roads. However, the study did note that speed limits, topography, DUI enforcement, age distribution of drivers and the percentage of rural roads could be factors in driving up the rates in different states.
The study also noted that speeding on rural roads, along with reduced visibility at night and lengthy emergency response times, could lead to a greater likelihood of crashes resulting in deaths.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety has a number of roadway safety initiatives to reduce traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities on state roadways, including “Target Zero Traffic Deaths: A Goal We Can Live With” and “Highways or Dieways? The Choice Is Yours.” The state also routinely stages crackdowns on drunk driving at different times of the year such as during the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Those are all laudable efforts.
But until people start taking more precautions by following speed limits, staying away from drugged and drunk driving and avoiding distracted driving, reaching the ultimate goal of zero deaths will be exceedingly difficult in our state.
If you or a family member is involved in a crash on South Carolina’s roadways, it is important to contact an experienced attorney who can help you through the legal process and make sure your rights are fully protected.