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The numbers will be out again Monday. After every weekend, the S.C. Department of Public Safety reports on traffic fatalities. We can only hope this weekend is not proving as deadly as the last, when 13 people were killed on South Carolina roads.

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For far too many, the numbers are more than numbers. They are lost lives of loved ones. For the state’s people in general, the numbers ARE numbers, representing too much acceptance of carnage on the state’s roads and highways.

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Nowhere more than Orangeburg County should the numbers represent a true warning about the danger faced by motorists:

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• Of the 544 traffic fatalities in the state as of this past Sunday, 24 were in Orangeburg County. That’s 4% of the highway deaths in a state in which the county has 1.7% of the population.

• Orangeburg, with a population of 87,000, is sixth on the list of counties for the most fatalities in 2019, but with a death rate per capita far higher than the top five. Horry County is No. 1 with 53 deaths but has 344,000 people. Greenville traffic deaths total 42 among 514,000 people. Charleston is third with 40 deaths among 405,000 people. Richland, with 414,000 people, has had 27 deaths, followed by Lexington with 26 deaths from a population of 295,000.

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• Larger counties such as Florence, with 138,000 people, and Aiken with a 169,000 population, have had fewer traffic deaths than Orangeburg with 14 and 18 respectively. With a 106,000 population, Sumter has had 16 traffic deaths. And in neighboring Dorchester, with 160,000 people, the 2019 death toll is six.

The roads of Orangeburg, the state’s second largest county in land area, are a dangerous place. The numbers prove it.

To reduce your risk of dying or being seriously hurt on the roads, some other numbers should be a call to action.

Of the 13 people killed on the state’s roads a weekend ago, nine were involved in motor-vehicle crashes. Of the nine, three were wearing seat belts. Six, among them a driver ejected from a vehicle in an Orangeburg County crash, were not.

Of those killed in the state in 2019, 361 had access to seat belts – but 180 were not buckled up.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

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%.

By the numbers, averaging the rate at just 50%, wearing seat belts could have meant 90 people in the state so far in 2019 would have survived.

With such a high percentage of traffic deaths per capita, Orangeburg County is a place where no one should be failing to wear safety belts. They up your odds of living to drive another day in a place where far too many do not.

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