Traffic Fatalities, Especially Motorcycle Accidents and Deaths, Increase in 2015
Traffic fatalities, particularly fatal motorcycle accidents, in South Carolina rose in 2014, and it looks like they’ve increased exponentially this year.
As of the beginning of September, 601 people have died in car accidents across the state – 107 more than last year, an increase of 22%. Of those deaths, 97 have been motorcyclists, which is up 68 deaths from this time last year. In 2014, a still-tragic 84 total people died in motorcycle accidents the whole year.
In addition to the large number of motorcyclist deaths, 10 bicyclists have died (7 died in all of 2014); and 61 pedestrians have died in traffic accidents this year, compared to a total of 49 last year.
There are still 3 months left in the year, which means that the number of motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and car crashes will continue to rise.
Why has the number of car crashes and traffic fatalities risen so much so quickly? Some suggest that low gas prices means more people are on the road. Traffic fatalities have increased across the country, but the numbers have been especially steep in South Carolina. States have been raising their speed limits as well, which can increase highway fatalities, not just accidents.
Many in the state blame South Carolina’s terrible roads – the state is far behind national standards for repaving and caring for roads, and one estimate last year suggested that SC needs as much as $1 billion to make the roads completely safe.
South Carolina allows motorcyclists to drive without helmets unless they are younger than 18 years old, which means that those on motorcycles are more often in danger of dying in a car accident because they lack protection. In fact, 8 out of 10 motorcycle accident fatalities each year are related to the motorcyclist not wearing a helmet.
But SC also has one of the highest rates of drunk driving in the nation, and only last year passed laws making texting and driving a misdemeanor. Distracted driving in South Carolina can leave a driver with a fine, but no jail time for endangering others on the road. Police in the state say that drunk driving and failure to yield the right of way are the two leading causes of car accidents and traffic fatalities across the state, but there are still no good statistics on where distracted driving falls in the list of causes of traffic violations and accidents.
Rick “Ponytail” Allison, President of MAA, the Motorcycle Awareness Alliance, is desperately trying to spread the message “Look Twice, Save a Life” across SC’s Upstate. This rule applies not just to drivers, but motorcyclists as well.
“I’ve lost too many friends to this,” Ponytail said in an interview. “I’ve lost friends I rode with because somebody did not look twice.”
“Too many. One is too many. Over the years, in my years, I’ve witnessed very terrible accidents. It’s not something you want to carry around in your memory,” David Rodgers, With the Homeland Park Fire Department.