An estimated 1,035 people perished on Palmetto State “dieways” last year – down modestly from the 1,109 fatalities reported in 2021. Still, the trend lines keep pushing higher – even as state lawmakers mandated seat belt usage and launched a multi-million dollar public relations campaign entitled “Target Zero.”
Prior to 2016 – a year which saw 1,020 fatalities on South Carolina roads – annual traffic deaths had remained below the 1,000-mark dating back to 2007 (reaching a nadir of 767 in 2013).
It was right around the time government decided to make traffic safety a “priority” that fatalities started soaring again.
Federal data paints an even bleaker picture of the situation …
According to numbers compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), South Carolina saw the highest percentage increase in traffic fatalities (26 percent) of any state in the entire nation between 1994-2020. That massive spike came at a time when highway deaths declined nationally by 5 percent over the same period. And while South Carolina saw its fatality rate per million miles driven dip by 13 percent during this 27-year stretch – that metric plunged by 23 percent nationally over the same time frame.
More ominously, South Carolina’s rate of 1.97 fatalities per million miles driven was the worst in the entire country in 2020 – well above the national average of 1.34.
In other words, the Palmetto State’s roads are the nation’s deadliest … still.
Here is a look at those numbers courtesy of our intrepid research director Jenn Wood …
“To improve in the rankings, South Carolina needs to reduce its fatality rates,” noted Baruch Feigenbaum, the foundation’s senior managing director of transportation policy. “South Carolina is last in overall fatality and in the bottom ten for urban and rural fatality.”
Of interest? This report found that the Palmetto State has the fifth largest system of “state-controlled highway mileage” in America – which is totally out-of-whack considering South Carolina ranks No. 40 nationally in terms of its surface area and No. 33 nationally in terms of urbanization.
Bottom line? There is simply no reason for state government to maintain such a huge network of roads and bridges.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has an incredible hat collection including that Tampa Bay Rays sunburst batting practice lid.
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