THE ISSUE: Aggressive driving; OUR OPINION: Drivers should be aware of deadly holiday trend

Perhaps the survey results explain that two of the top college football players in South Carolina are not the only ones to drive more aggressively during the holiday period.

In recent days, reports have documented that South Carolina Gamecocks defensive star Jadeveon Clowney was ticketed on Interstate 77 in Fairfield County for driving 110 mph in a 70 zone. The day before, Clemson Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd was given a warning for driving 84 mph in a 70 zone on Interstate 20 in Kershaw County.

Let’s hope their cases do not serve as examples, but State Farm Insurance and KRC Research report that they are part of a trend. The firms’ online survey found that a third of drivers (32 percent) say their likelihood of engaging in aggressive driving increases during the winter holidays.

That’s not good news for a time that is annually among the deadliest periods on the roads – and a time that already sees an increase in impaired driving that is targeted by law enforcement with the Sober or Slammer program. Mix aggressive driving into the equation with potential distractions and the recipe for the road is enough to make you want to stay home.

Other key findings of the State Farm/KRC survey include:

* Forty-four percent of drivers report they have engaged in aggressive driving behaviors in the past three months.

* When it comes to aggressive driving, the majority (54 percent) of drivers cite men as the most likely culprits of aggressive driving, compared to only one in 10 who said that women are more likely. The remaining 37 percent of drivers reported men and women to be equally likely to engage in aggressive driving.

* Top situations most likely to make drivers respond aggressively are traffic jams (63 percent), running late (55 percent) and road closures or construction (47 percent).

* 32 percent of younger drivers (ages 18-29), 28 percent of middle-aged drivers (ages 30-49) and parents (30 percent) are significantly more likely to report being provoked to feel or engage in aggressive driving around the major winter holidays compared to only 9 percent of older drivers (ages 50 and older) and non-parents (15 percent).

“These findings reinforce how important it is to keep safety top of mind when driving every day, but especially during heavy travel times like the winter holidays,” State Farm spokesman Justin Tomczak says. “Both negative and positive emotions can affect the way drivers behave and it’s vital to be aware of your state of mind and continually refocus your attention on the road and practicing safe-driving behaviors.”

If Tomczak’s words about being nicer on the highways are not enough to make you consider your driving behavior, consider, as should Clowney and Boyd, both of whom are looking at future wealth via pro football careers, that nearly a third of all fatal car crashes relate to driving too fast for conditions.

And if you, or the players, believe that invincibility applies to you and danger to someone else, we offer the latest highway death toll as reported by the S.C. Department of Public Safety.

As of Dec. 8, 701 people have died compared to 808 highway deaths during the same time period in 2012. Of the 461 motor-vehicle occupants who have died in 2013, 259 were not wearing seat belts. Through midnight Dec. 8, 84 pedestrians, 116 motorcyclists and 13 bicyclists have died on state roads and highways.

And the numbers make a very strong case for a danger locally that is greater than even the state average. While Calhoun and Bamberg counties have had seven and four deaths respectively for the year, Orangeburg County’s toll stands at 32, up from 23 this time a year ago and the sixth-highest total of any county.

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