The Thanksgiving holiday has passed. The period from Wednesday, Nov. 22, to through Sunday, Nov. 26, saw another eight people die on South Carolina’s highways.

As of Nov. 26, 868 lives have been lost on the road, according to the S.C. Department of Public Safety. If there is any good news in that, the toll is 64 people less than the 932 killed at the same time a year ago.

The number of dead is staggering when put in the context of the lives lost and other lives so horrendously impacted.

In this, the happy season, the danger on the roads is high. Traffic is heavy and parties abound. People are rushing about shopping and trying to get everything done. Inattention, impaired driving, speeding: All are factors in traditionally making the holidays dangerous.

For Thanksgiving, the S.C. Department of Public Safety implemented a crackdown on texting and driving. The necessity for such is established by the deadly numbers: Prior to Thanksgiving 2017, South Carolina had seen an estimated 13,872 crashes resulting in 38 fatalities as a direct result of drivers using cell phones and other mobile devices behind the wheel.

The Thanksgiving enforcement was part of the ongoing “Operation STOP” initiative and was called “STOP Texting and Driving.”

It focuses on a problem that is very real at all times – not just Thanksgiving.

Most of us try to be decent, courteous drivers, but somehow bad habits creep up, which can put ourselves and others in danger. When you think about proper car safety, you automatically think of seat belts, following the speed limit or using your blinkers. But cell phones are increasingly at the root of bad driving habits.

Texting while driving has become just as dangerous as drinking and driving – with young people and their cell phone culture being particularly prone to misuse of the devices while driving. But older people are guilty too.

As Americans have become more aware of the dangers of using mobile devices behind the wheel, car and wireless manufacturers have increasingly offered hands-free and speech-recognition technologies as safer alternatives. But they are not foolproof.

Because of the number of accidents related to mobile phone use, there remains a push in some jurisdictions to make all uses of the devices while driving illegal. Some states and locales have enacted laws to ban use of a handheld mobile phone use while driving. In some cases, restrictions are directed only to minors or newly qualified license holders.

Regardless of the law and whether a driver is using a hands-free device or a handheld mobile phone, he or she still needs to exercise good driving judgment. No one should have to explain why texting is outlawed. But even just talking on the phone can become the source of distraction that results in disaster.

The road is a dangerous place. Every bit of concentration by drivers is needed.

Do the math and you’ll know just how much danger you’re in with distractions: If your car is moving at 65 mph, in just 3 seconds you’ll travel the length of a football field. Think of how many hits can happen.

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