Editorial: Reducing road deaths a must for ‘21
The new year on the roads has already claimed 27 lives in South Carolina. Two of them were in Florence County. Those are not the numbers transportation officials hoped for after a year that saw traffic deaths increase in the state despite what had been expected to be a decline because of less traffic due to the pandemic.
Recent statistics from www.autoinsurance.org show South Carolina ranked first in 2020 for the worst state for traffic-related fatalities, with a 1.78 fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. It is the third year in a row the organization’s annual study has found “troubling stats for South Carolina drivers.”
Preliminary numbers from the S.C. Department of Public Safety show 1,020 people were killed in crashes in 2020, 14 more than the toll of 1,006 in 2019.
Pedestrian deaths were up to 174 from 165 in 2019. Motorcycle fatalities were down to 106 from 120 and bicycle deaths stood at 14, a reduction of 13 from 27 in 2019.
Road deaths were down in Florence County, from 37 in 2019 to 32 in 2020. Two people also lost their lives on Florence County roads in the first two weeks of 2020.
As much as any decline of any type, anywhere is welcome, it’s still horrific that more than 1,000 people were killed on the state’s roads last year.
And already in 2021, there have been 27 deaths, up nine from a year ago. Seeing traffic deaths take a major decline is high on our list of wishes for the new year. Many things could contribute to making it happen.
A key one is reducing deaths in motor vehicle crashes, which account for the greatest loss of life. Wearing safety belts is the most effective way to save lives in vehicle crashes.
1. If you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45% and moderate to critical injury by 50%.
2. If you buckle up in a light truck, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 60% and moderate to critical injury by 65%.
Wearing seat belts is the law. It is also the smart and sensible thing to do.
In Florence County and all around South Carolina, a commitment to wearing seat belts every time and all the time while traveling would be a very smart resolution for 2021 - and one that is not difficult to keep. Your life may depend on it.