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EDITORIAL: Road crashes adding to toll of deadly 2020
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EDITORIAL: Road crashes adding to toll of deadly 2020

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Another person was killed in Orangeburg County in a traffic crash this past weekend, continuing a deadly trend over recent weeks.

The traffic toll for the county in 2020 has now reached 32, just three fewer than a year ago at this time.

Around the state, 893 have died, with eight more killed this past weekend. The total is 14 more than in 2019.

Sadly, the state is on track by year's end to continue its pattern of 1,000 people killed on the highways.

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It wasn't supposed to be this way with fewer people on the highways amid the pandemic. But the National Safety Council indicates 2020 is shaping up to be deadlier for auto accidents than last year.

The monthly mileage death rate jumped 26.1% in July 2020 compared to July 2019, according to the NSC.

Fatality rates spiked despite the drop in miles driven. Per 100 million vehicle miles driven, the mileage death rate in July 2020 was 1.50, compared to 1.19 in 2019, NSC found.

“Because of COVID-19-related impacts, the number of miles driven in the first seven months of 2020 decreased 15.7% compared to 2019,” the NSC reported. “The number of miles driven in July 2020 decreased 11.2% compared to July 2019.”

Yet the NSC’s research division reported deaths in 2020 up 2% compared to the first seven months of 2019. And July's deaths increased by 11% over 2019.

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So the U.S., amid the coronavirus emergency, may end a four-year trend of improved road safety. The car accident fatality rate has declined since 2016, when nearly 38,000 died, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The toll wad down nearly 2,000 in 2019.

Now comes Thanksgiving and Christmas, the holiday season in which travel typically increases, and so do crashes. While it is unclear how much the unfolding increase in coronavirus cases will impact mobility this season, surveys have shown that people prefer traveling in their personal vehicles during this time.

Air travel, trains, buses and other forms of mass transportation are seen as more of a risk during COVID-19. Travel by car with family or those you know logically seems less risky.

But there's plenty of danger on the road. To avoid it, we offer two key points from Share the Road, a highway-safety outreach program of the American Trucking Associations:

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Slow down. With the extra highway congestion due to holiday travel, speeding becomes even more dangerous. Allow plenty of space cushion and reduce your speed.

Buckle up. Safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent and are a simple way to increase your safety on the road.

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