According to the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), South Carolina has the worst rural roads in the nation.
South Carolina has more traffic fatalities than any other state, and 60% of those fatal crashes occur on rural roads. In fact, 30% of all of South Carolina’s fatal and injury-causing crashes occur on just 5% of our state’s roads. Between 2012-2016 (the most recent years for which data is available), there were 6,812 crashes on rural roads that resulted in serious injuries or deaths.
The deadliest road is a 10-mile stretch of U.S. 29 between I-85 and Snow Road running from Greenville to Anderson, but all rural roads can be deceptively dangerous, even compared to congested highways and interstates.
Why are Rural Roads More Dangerous?
Given their higher speed limits, lack of safety features, and slower emergency response times, rural roads are a powder keg for turning what might otherwise be less harmful crashes into deadly ones.
Rural roads are more likely to feature narrow lanes with limited or no shoulders, sharp curves, steep slopes or drop-offs, and exposed hazards. All these make it easy for drivers to lose control and leave the road in accidents, which occurs in nearly 50% of all fatal accidents, according to the SCDOT.
According to South Carolina Highway Patrol spokesperson Cpl. Sonny Collins, “Mistakes [on rural roads] can have larger consequences because your room for error is a lot less. When you look at rural roads, the speed limit is 55, but you have lots of driveways, farm equipment on the roads, and a lot of different vehicles going a lot of different speeds versus U.S. 501, S.C. 31 or S.C. 22 where you have big sight lines and everyone’s moving the same speed.”
One key reason why South Carolina’s rural roads in particular are so deadly is because they are simply in poor shape. 38% of South Carolina’s rural roads are rated to be in poor or mediocre condition.
How South Carolina Plans to Make Rural Roads Safer
The SCDOT is currently three years into a 10-year Rural Roads Safety Program targeting 1,900 miles of the deadliest rural roads in the state for improvements. So far, work is underway or completed on approximately 400 miles of rural roads.
Improvement plans include:
- Trimming back vegetation
- Adding guardrails and cable barriers
- Adding rumble strips
- Widening shoulders
- Increasing reflectiveness of striping and speed limit signs
For a full list of roadways included in the Rural Roads Safety Program, click here.
What You Can Do to Decrease Your Risk On Rural Roads
While poor road conditions are a major factor in the deadliness of rural roads, driver negligence is another factor that can’t be ignored.
The majority of fatal and injury-causing crashes in South Carolina fall into one of four categories: distracted driving, speeding, driving under the influence, and failure to yield right-of-way.
Nearly one-third of all fatal crashes in South Carolina in 2017 involved an impaired driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and nearly half involved speeding. A further 17% of people killed on South Carolina roads in 2017 weren’t driving a motor vehicle.
What this tells us is that the best way to protect yourself, and others, when traveling on South Carolina roads is respecting and obeying traffic laws.
Since 45% of fatal and injury causing crashes were also found to have occurred at night, you can also reduce your risks of an accident by showing extra caution when travel conditions aren’t ideal, whether that means low light, bad weather, or poorly maintained roads.
If You or Someone You Love Has Been Injured or Killed in a Crash, Call Joye Law Firm
We know how devastating an auto accident can be, especially on rural roads when emergency response times are usually delayed. But when your crash was the fault of someone else’s negligence, it’s even worse.
We want to help you get the compensation you are owed for your medical expenses, as well as the pain and suffering you endured. Contact our South Carolina car accident attorneys today to get started on building a case to the insurance company for the full amount you are owed.