The state of South Carolina has earned a new – and unfortunate – distinction for having some of the deadliest roads in the United States, according to an academic study released earlier this month.

A study on car accident fatality rates from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute analyzed federal traffic data and found South Carolina to be one of the states with the worst records for deadly crashes. South Carolina placed in the bottom 10 when looking at both fatality rates per miles driven and population-based fatality rates. Recently, a nationwide survey revealed that South Carolina has the worst roads in the US.

The study reported the fatality rate per billion vehicle miles traveled in South Carolina was 17.60, ranking the state 50th out of 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. Only West Virginia had a worse record at 17.63 deaths per billion miles.

South Carolina’s neighboring states fared better. Georgia ranked 24th with a fatality rate of 11.09, and North Carolina ranked 29th with a rate of 12.31.

By comparison, the rates for the safest jurisdictions were 4.20 in D.C. and 6.24 in Massachusetts. The average for the entire country was 11.30 traffic accident deaths per billion vehicle miles traveled.

The fatality rate per 100,000 population in South Carolina was 18.27, ranking 44th in the country, according to the study. D.C. and Massachusetts had the fewest deaths by population, with rates of 2.37 and 5.35, respectively. The U.S. average was 10.69.

Georgia ranked 28th with a rate of 12.20, and North Carolina ranked 35th with a rate of 13.25.

Fatality Rates in S.C. are High, But Falling

But there is some good news. Overall, these numbers represent a downward trend in fatality rates, according to the study.

The fatality rate per billion miles traveled in South Carolina is down 20.4 percent compared to 2005. The fatality rate based on population is down 28.9 percent for the same time period.

But the downward trend isn’t enough, and doesn’t explain why South Carolina’s rate is so much higher than much of the country, as well as the bordering states of Georgia and North Carolina.

Michael Sivak, the researcher for the study, told the Kicking Tires blog that several factors may contribute to higher fatality rates, including speed limits and enforcement, road topology, enforcement of laws regarding distracted driving and driving under the influence, the age of drivers and the proportion of driving done on limited-access highways such as interstates.

While some factors that contribute to serious car accidents cannot be changed, others result from individual carelessness. South Carolina must take steps to further reduce traffic fatalities and accidents so our state can be known for its best attributes like beautiful beaches, Southern hospitality, historic streets and fine cuisine.

Sources:

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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