Crowded highway overview of Columbia, SC

South Carolina’s latest yearly count of motor vehicle accidents reported nearly 1,000 fatalities and more than 60,500 nonfatal injuries in traffic accidents. Both fatalities and nonfatal injuries declined slightly from the prior year, according to the SC Department of Public Safety (SCDPS).

“Almost no area of South Carolina was immune from traffic collisions in 2017,” the SCDPS says. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety said that every county experienced at least one fatal traffic collision during the year and seven counties had at least 40 traffic fatalities during 2017. Richland County had 52 traffic fatalities in 2017 and 50 in 2018.

Most car, truck and motorcycle accidents happen on U.S. primary and secondary roads. Secondary routes accounted for the largest percentage of fatal collisions. Meanwhile, more than 10 percent of collisions occurred on interstates in South Carolina.

Primary roads are generally divided, limited-access highways within the interstate highway system or under state management, and are distinguished by the presence of interchanges. Secondary roads are main arteries that have one or more lanes of traffic in each direction. They may or may not be divided, and usually have at-grade intersections with many other roads and driveways.

The SCDPS doesn’t identify specific U.S. and S.C. highways where crashes happened, but recent surveys of car accidents have spotlighted dangerous highways around Columbia and Richland County and throughout South Carolina.

Dangerous Highways Around Columbia and Richland County

The SC Department of Public Safety’s Traffic Crash Facts report says 16,428 traffic collisions occurred on interstate highways in South Carolina during 2017. Based on their shares of 96 fatalities and 3,533 injuries in accidents, the most dangerous were:

  1. Interstate 26 – runs from near Landrum in Spartanburg County through Columbia to Charleston
  2. I-20 – enters South Carolina near Augusta, Georgia, passes through Columbia and ends in Florence
  3. I-85 – enters South Carolina south of Charlotte, N.C., before crossing the Upstate through Spartanburg and Greenville
  4. I-95 – runs through Dillon, Florence, Santee, Walterboro and Hardeeville
  5. I-77 – runs from the North Carolina state line near Rock Hill south to an interchange with I-26 near Columbia
  6. I-385 – links the Greenville area with I-26 southeast to Columbia
  7. I-126 – a spur route of I-26 almost entirely within the city limits of Columbia
  8. I-526 – a spur route of I-26 serving as a bypass of US 17 North around Charleston
  9. I-585 – a spur route connecting to the I-85 Business loop around Spartanburg
  10. I-520 – an I-20 spur creating a loop around Augusta, Ga., and North Augusta, S.C.

recent survey ranked several major freeways that run through South Carolina as being among the country’s 25 most dangerous highways. Those listed are I-20, I-95 and I-85 in the Top 15, U.S. 17 which passes through Myrtle Beach at No. 20 and U.S. 1, which goes through Camden, Columbia and Aiken, at No. 24.

The survey’s rankings were based on the number of fatalities on highways caused by crashes in moving traffic, overturned vehicles, pedestrians being hit and drivers hitting trees.

South Carolina Highways Among ‘Most Dangerous’

For a report published in March 2019 titled States With the Most Dangerous Roads, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the number of motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 residents in 2018 in states across the country using National Safety Council accident statistics and U.S. Census population estimates.

In its ranking of U.S. states, 24/7 Wall St. said South Carolina ranked No. 2 for most dangerous roads behind Mississippi.

The rate of motor vehicle fatalities across the country varies from fewer than 5 per 100,000 in one state to more than 20 per 100,000 in several others, 24/7 Wall St. said. Overall, the country’s rate is about 12 per 100,000 population. The difference in the likelihood of dying from a car crash depends on a variety of factors, including seat belt use, speed limits, drunk driving rates, and weather.

The survey found in S.C.:

  • 1,034 motor vehicle fatalities in 2018 (10th most)
  • 50% of those killed were not wearing seat belts (17th highest)
  • 60% of fatal crashes were on rural roads (23rd highest).

In April, 24/7 Wall St. reported its Worst Cities to Drive in Every State and chose Florence in South Carolina. “The components of the index — which include average commute time, gas prices, and accident rates — were selected to capture an area’s safety, convenience, and cost of driving,” the report said.

In Florence, the survey found:

  • 8 traffic fatalities per 100,000 people
  • 23.1-minute average commute time (state average: 24.6 minutes)
  • 92.1% of commuters drive to work (state: 91.3%)
  • 275.5 car thefts per 100,000 people in 2017.

Talk to Our Columbia Car Accident Lawyers

A serious car, truck or motorcycle accident can happen on any road anywhere in Columbia or elsewhere in South Carolina at any time. At Joye Law Firm, our Columbia car accident attorneys represent people who are injured in accidents or lose loved ones due to others’ negligent disregard for safety.

Contact our auto accident lawyers in Columbia, North Charleston, Myrtle Beach or Clinton, SC, for a free consultation about your options for pursuing compensation from a careless or reckless driver who injured you in a traffic accident. We will be straightforward with you about whether we believe you have a valid legal claim. If we believe we can help, we will offer to handle your car accident case on a contingency fee basis. We do not receive a legal fee unless we recover money for you.

Reach out to Joye Law today. We can come to where you are in South Carolina to meet.

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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