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South Carolinians by now know that our highways are among the deadliest in the nation. They should know the state has prioritized safety, through improvements on highways, stricter enforcement of traffic laws and pleas for motorists to make our roads highways not dieways.

So far this year, there has been no improvement in the deadly status quo that annually means more than 1,000 people die on the roads.

As of Dec. 2, 924 people have been killed on South Carolina highways, according to the S.C. Department of Public Safety. That compares to 914 highway deaths during the same time period in 2017.

Of the 636 motor vehicle occupants who have died in 2018, 327 were not wearing seat belts.

Through Dec. 2, 138 pedestrians have died compared to 143 in 2017; 96 motorcyclists have died compared to 113 in 2017; and 19 bicyclists have died compared to 16 in 2017 on state roads and highways.

The year has been particularly deadly locally, with Orangeburg County losing 38 people on the roads compared to 25 at this time a year ago. A total of 10 people have died in Bamberg and Calhoun counties.

Just last weekend, the death toll for the state rose by another five people. Weekends tend to the deadliest times on the roads, along with holiday periods.

GasBuddy.com, the smartphone app used by more than 70 million drivers, is cautioning drivers on the deadly nature of aggressive driving, particularly during the holidays.

It's no surprise the holiday season is stressful. With the extra errands and traveling the holidays call for, a lot of that jingle-bell stress is transferred to the roads by the way consumers drive.

The GasBuddy study shows that consumers’ driving habits are 175 percent more “aggressive” during the holidays compared to the rest of the year. And South Carolina is among the worst places for aggressive driving, ranking fifth behind only Georgia, California, Texas and Louisiana.

In establishing the rankings, GasBuddy examined data in the United States from the Thanksgiving holiday week defined as Nov. 21-25, noting the frequency of aggressive events while driving: quick accelerating, hard braking and speeding.

The data also revealed that aggressive driving habits occur most during the beginning of the season, with more instances happening during the drive to the holiday destination than on the return. The actual holiday — in this case, Thanksgiving — is when it is the calmest behind the wheel, followed by Black Friday.

“As we head into December, motorists shouldn’t let the stress of the season negatively impact the way they drive. Not only is aggressive driving dangerous but it is the quickest way to lower gas mileage by as much as 40 percent,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.

Sadly, the remainder of the year likely holds more tragedy. We sure hope not, urging extra caution on the roads, where distractions and impatience behind the wheel can prove fatal for you and those you love.

As GasBuddy has noted, if you drive like a manic, it costs you -- and the price could be a lot higher than the cost per gallon of gas.

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