Auto accidents accounted for 981 deaths last year on South Carolina roads, according to preliminary numbers from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS). That’s 981 individual lives lost and families impacted. Non-fatal collisions number over 100,000 per year in this state alone, resulting in property damage and 30,000+ injuries, and costing South Carolina over $1 billion in medical costs and work loss.
As personal injury attorneys at The Carolina Law Group, it’s our job to help people who have been injured or have lost a loved one in an accident. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t be necessary because there would be no such accidents. Until that happens, we want to share some safety advice that will hopefully reduce your chances of being part of the end-of-year statistics.
How To Drive To Reduce The Chance Of An Accident
A study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that the most common reasons for motor vehicle accidents were the failure of the vehicle in some way (2%), environmental factors like slick roads (2%), and driver fault (an enormous 94%). Clearly, the best way to reduce risk of crashes is to focus primarily on reducing driver fault, while also paying attention to vehicle safety and road conditions.
Avoid any Distractions — Not Just Cell Phones
In 2014, of the 3,179 deaths that occurred in traffic accidents across the U.S. only a small number of those deaths—404, to be exact—were linked directly to cell phone use.
Distracted driving includes any activity that takes the driver’s attention off the road, such as speaking with passengers, switching stations on the radio, adjusting the climate controls, eating, and more. The bottom line: When you’re driving, just drive. The other things can wait until you’re at a stop light or you’ve reached your destination.
Stop Others from Driving Drunk
Hopefully, you have already made the commitment never to drive while impaired. In 2017, take the next step and stop friends or family members who are about to get behind the wheel while unable to drive. Give them a ride (assuming you’re sober!) or call a taxi or Uber.
The impact you make could be huge: a full 31% of fatalities across the U.S. in 2014 were due to impaired driving, costing close to 10,000 lives.
Insist on Seat Belts
This won’t stop you from getting into a crash, but it can save your life in the event of a crash. We’ve known for decades how important and effective this simple safety device is, but many people still don’t like wearing seat belts. The NHTSA found that 49% of passengers and drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2014 were not wearing seatbelts. That same year, an estimated 12,802 lives were saved due to seat belts.
Even if you do everything by the book, you can’t eliminate your risk of being in a traffic accident because you can’t control the behavior of other drivers. Instead, drive defensively, as if you assume that other drivers will do something wrong. Look out for behavior the SCDPS reported as the most common cause of accidents in SC: speeding, failing to yield the right of way, distracted driving, driving under the influence, following too closely, and changing lanes incorrectly. Don’t be concerned with what other drivers should be doing, but rather what they are doing.
Keep Your Car in Good Shape
While only 2% of motor vehicle accidents are attributed to failure on the part of the vehicle (according to the NHTSA), that still represents thousands of accidents every year. What you can do: pay attention to recalls and keep up with scheduled maintenance. These types of accidents are most commonly due to tires and wheels (35%) and to brakes (22%). Focus on maintaining those, and you’ll be one step ahead.
Avoid Driving in Bad Conditions if Possible
Again, only 2% of accidents are due to environmental factors, but they are largely avoidable. Stay off the roads if at all possible during bad weather, as slick roads, ice, fog, snow, and rain are the primary cause of thousands of accidents in the U.S. each year.
Have You Been in a Motor Vehicle Accident? Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys Today
We’re committed to helping people who have been injured or who have survived the death of a loved one in an accident. If you need legal help, or want to talk to us about your personal injury matter, contact us online or by calling one of the numbers below to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.
The Carolina Law Group has four offices across South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville* (call 864.312.4444), West Greenville (call 864.312.4444), Greer* (call 864.757.5555), and Spartanburg* (call 864.312.4444). Call to schedule your consultation with a local personal injury attorney today.
910 E Washington St
Greenville, SC 29601
210 W Poinsett St
Greer, SC 29650
7612 Asheville Hwy
Spartanburg, SC 29303
West Greenville Office
6304 White Horse Rd. Suite B-6
Greenville, SC 29601
Note that many studies above are from 2014, the most recent year for which full data are available.