The road is becoming more and more dangerous for pedestrians.
Recently in Orangeburg County:
- A 21-year-old Manning man was crossing Big Buck Boulevard when he was hit by a car. He died at the scene.
- An 88-year-old pedestrian died after he was struck by an Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle on U.S. Highway 301 near the intersection of Canaan Road a few miles from Orangeburg.
- A 44-year-old Orangeburg man died after being struck by two vehicles. The accident occurred on U.S. Highway 301 just south of Orangeburg.
As of June 30, 452 people had died on South Carolina highways in 2019 – and 81 of them were pedestrians, an increase of seven over a year ago.
More than 150 pedestrians a year are killed on South Carolina roads.
Estimates by the Governors Highway Safety Association show pedestrian deaths in the U.S. have reached a 28-year high. A GHSA report determined 6,227 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2018 — a 4% increase over 2017 and the highest mortality rate since 1990.
The GHSA, a nonprofit group representing U.S. highway and safety offices, identified factors in the increase, including the popularity of SUVs and trucks, which are more likely to kill a human because of the size and weight difference. The number of SUVs involved in pedestrian deaths is up by 50 percent since 2013.
The behavior of drivers and pedestrians is also to blame. The increase in cellphone use over the past decade "can be a significant source of distraction for all road users," according to the GHSA report. Drivers as a whole also are paying less attention.
Also, in about half of traffic crashes that ended in pedestrian deaths in 2017, either the driver or pedestrian or both reportedly were impaired.
While impaired driving is often targeted in the highway safety discussion, too little focus is placed on impaired pedestrians.
Consider a leading cause of pedestrian deaths in South Carolina is a person or persons illegally being in the roadway. Intoxication is a factor.
Pedestrian responsibility is as much a key to saving lives as any single action. Beyond sobriety, pedestrians should know the law and how to remain safe.
There is equally the problem of lack of knowledge by roadway users of laws regarding pedestrians. Pedestrians are directed by law to use a sidewalk, shoulder of the roadway or, if neither is available, to walk as far on the edge of the roadway as possible. Pedestrians also should walk facing traffic.
It will take increased awareness and attention to safety by drivers and pedestrians to reverse the trend of more deaths.
As GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins stated: "While we have made progress reducing fatalities among many other road users in the past decade, pedestrian deaths have risen 35%" since 2008. The alarm bells continue to sound on this issue; it's clear we need to fortify our collective efforts to protect pedestrians and reverse the trend.”