The South Carolina Department of Public Safety is reminding motorists that troopers and officers will be increasing enforcement to prevent collisions especially caused by drunk and aggressive driving during the long July 4th weekend. The official holiday travel period begins Wednesday at 6 p.m. and runs through Sunday at midnight. This is a 102-hour travel period. Last year, the travel period was only 30 hours and five people died on the highways during that time (see table below). Law enforcement will begin special holiday enforcement efforts statewide tomorrow.
“With July 4 falling on a Thursday, many people will choose to take Friday off, which will mean extended travel on our roadways,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. “The good news going into this Independence Day weekend is that South Carolina has nearly 75 fewer fatalities than last year at this time. We need the public's help to continue that trend.”
There have been 341 fatalities this year compared to 416 deaths at this time last year; 141 people died not wearing safety belts; and there have been 103 vulnerable roadway user deaths (motorcycle, moped, bicycle, and pedestrian) compared to 137 last year.
Highway Patrol Colonel Mike Oliver said that the motoring public should expect to see more proactive enforcement in conjunction with local law enforcement and the State Transport Police, which will place a strong focus on commercial motor vehicle traffic.
Oliver said violations that are problematic during the July 4th travel period include impaired driving, speed/too fast for conditions, failure to yield the right of way, and improper/unlawful lane change. Oliver stressed that failure to buckle up continues to be a leading cause of death in fatal collisions and buckling up is the single best safety measure for motorists — every trip, every time.
The State Transport Police, a division of SCDPS, regulates commercial motor vehicle traffic. STP reminds motorists that most collisions involving a large truck and motor vehicle are the fault of the non-CMV vehicle.
STP Col. Leroy Taylor reminds motorists to be cautious when driving around commercial motor vehicles and buses. “Don't ride in their blind spots and ensure you leave big trucks plenty of room to stop. There are more challenges in maneuvering an 80,000 pound truck compared to a 3,000 pound car.”
The Highway Patrol also encourages motorists to keep these safety tips in mind when traveling:
- Ensure vehicles are properly maintained. Vehicles often break down due to the extreme temperatures this time of year; remember to check the tread on your tires since the heat from the pavement can cause blowouts
- If you break down OR have a minor collision, pull as far off the roadway as possible, activate emergency flashers and call *HP or your local sheriff's office
- Motorists are strongly discouraged from walking on any roadways for emergency assistance especially interstates where it is illegal
- Get real-time traffic information here and SCDOT traffic information here
- Move Over and allow first responders to do their jobs safely; this is the law in South Carolina
For more safety tips on beach travel, check out the Highway Patrol's Traveling to the Beach brochure.