As of May 12, South Carolina had 320 highway fatalities compared to 360 on the same date in 2018. Despite the decline, the toll remains horrific, with the most dangerous days on the road upcoming.
Memorial Day begins the “100 Deadly Days of Summer,” the historically dangerous time to travel between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This year, the S.C. Department of Public Safety is putting emphasis on a "Buckle Up, South Carolina" enforcement campaign, with officials reminding drivers that buckling up is the best insurance against the unforeseen on the road.
From May 15 until June 2, SCDPS and local law enforcement agencies will conduct a unified enforcement effort focusing on South Carolina’s primary safety belt law as part of the “Buckle Up, South Carolina” mobilization.
Special attention will be paid to nighttime enforcement checks, as statistics show the safety belt usage rate drops during the hours between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“Driving is a task that requires constant focus,” SCDPS Director Leroy Smith said. “There are many factors that drivers cannot control on our roadways, but one thing they can control is choosing to wear a safety belt. Buckling up is a task that only takes a few seconds but saves hundreds of lives each year.”
In 2019, SCDPS reports that 107 of the 221 people with access to safety belts died unrestrained. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, up to 50 of the 107 could be alive today had they been belted.
NHTSA statistics show:
1. If you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45% and moderate to critical injury by 50%.
2. If you buckle up in a light truck, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 60% and moderate to critical injury by 65%.
Of the 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, 47% were not wearing seat belts. In 2017 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they had been wearing seat belts, according to NHTSA.
To drive home the point about seat belts, SCDPS has launched a new safety campaign featuring the tagline, “You never know what you can’t control.” The public service announcements will appear on television, as well as social media. Link to the new commercial at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkdI0yxUegU
While there is no humor in highway deaths and injuries, the announcements take a humorous approach to get the public’s attention on the very serious issue of buckling up.
Perhaps laughter (humor) indeed will be the best medicine for getting people to do the smart thing.
As Highway Patrol Col. Chris Williamson stated: “During the summer months, our law enforcement sees traffic collisions and deaths increase as people travel to the beach and other vacation destinations.”
In order to halt the rise in fatalities, the public can expect to see more blue lights this summer as DPS and local law enforcement place a strong emphasis on impaired driving, speed and safety belt enforcement.