From fender-benders to major catastrophes, car accidents are a fact of life on South Carolina roads. Nearly everyone knows somebody who has been in an accident, and we all know the basic rules for protecting ourselves: drive defensively, put down the cell phone, and always wear a seat belt.
But there are plenty of things that South Carolina residents don’t know about car accidents in our state – or the state of our roads and highways. You probably knew that rollover accidents were dangerous – but did you know that half of all car crash deaths occur when a vehicle leaves the roadway?
Here are five more things you probably didn’t know about South Carolina car accidents:
1. One in every five fatal crashes in South Carolina involves hitting a tree. That’s right: according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), 20 percent of car accident deaths in South Carolina occur when a vehicle hits a tree. This is more than twice the national average for tree-car fatalities; nationwide, only 8 percent of accidents claim lives this way.
2. Ten percent of the state-owned bridges in South Carolina have been declared “structurally deficient.” South Carolina owns a total of 8,416 bridges, and 849 have been found “structurally deficient.” By “structurally deficient,” SCDOT means that the bridges’ decks, superstructure, or substructure has been rated “in poor condition.” Ten bridges are currently closed.
3. South Carolina set a record in 2013 for fewest traffic deaths…but the car accident death rate is still 50 percent higher than the national average. According to the SCDOT, 2013 saw the lowest recorded death rate since 1982, with 764 car accident deaths. Edgefield County didn’t have a single traffic death last year, totaling 445 consecutive days without a fatal crash until early 2014.
4. The interstate highway system is over 50 years old. South Carolina contains only 857 miles of interstate highway, but almost one-third of all vehicle miles traveled in the state use the interstates, according to SCDOT. Although our venerable freeways carry over 70,000 vehicles each day, 90 percent of them are still in “good” or “fair” condition.
5. SCDOT patched 570,000 potholes in 2013. Road workers also mowed 345,000 acres to improve roadside visibility, removed 42,000 fallen trees, repaired 312,000 road signs, and threw away 5,000,000 pounds of litter and debris.
The state of the roadway can play a major role in a serious car accident. The risk of an accident is higher during bad weather, when slippery pavement, poor visibility, roadway debris, and other factors can cause a crash. Broken pavement, blind curves, and improperly-marked intersections can also lead to disaster.
You can help protect yourself and your passengers by staying alert for roadway problems. Check the weather before you leave, and plan extra time for your trip if it looks like you’re driving into bad weather. And you know the number-one rule: always buckle up!
If you or a loved one has suffered a car accident, don’t wait: contact the attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. The initial case evaluation for your injury case is free. Call 1.800.533.6845 to learn more.