COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - An analysis by AAA Carolinas of 2008 crashes shows traffic deaths in South Carolina are more likely in accidents occurring in rural counties that border North Carolina and Georgia.
The AAA analysis is based on state traffic statistics provided by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.
Allendale, Barnwell, Chesterfield, Edgefield and Darlington counties top AAA's list of dangerous counties for 2008 fatalities. That's the latest year statistics are available.
Those five counties represent seven percent of 2008 traffic deaths, but only three percent of the state's total vehicle miles traveled.
Rural roads are generally narrow, with lower shoulders and often have less police presence than major highways. Bordering counties frequently intermingle visiting drivers from both states, which can also cause problems.
South Carolina traffic deaths dropped by 14 percent in 2008, the first time SC has had less than 1,000 traffic fatalities in four years, largely attributed to four factors: there was increased law enforcement presence on highways, an increased focus on DUI enforcement, two percent less miles traveled in a down economy and increased seat belt usage.
"While there is still a lot of work to be done and much improvement to be made, I am pleased that we have experienced a decline in our state's traffic fatalities," stated Mark Keel, director of the SC Department of Public Safety, in a written news release.
In 2007, South Carolina was the third most dangerous state per mile driven with a fatality rate at 2.11 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, according to Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) encyclopedia. The 2008 rate is 1.88 for South Carolina, but a nationwide ranking from FARS is not currently available. Louisiana and Montana were the two states with greater fatality rates in the 2007 ranking.
Charleston County again ranked first in likelihood of a collision and injury as it has for the past four years, according to the crash analysis. Charleston County roads logged 11 percent of all state crashes (107,252), just 400 more than Greenville County (10 percent of the crashes).
Additionally, more than ten percent of the state's injury crashes (31,053) and 59 of the state's 921 traffic fatalities occurred in Charleston County.
Calhoun County is the safest county for all crashes, fatal crashes and injury crashes according to the 2008 AAA ranking.
"It is gratifying to see the decrease in fatalities but dismaying to note that five people die every two days on South Carolina roads," said David E. Parsons, CEO and president of AAA Carolinas. "Seat belt usage has increased more than 10 percentage points from 69.7% to 81.5%, since a primary seat belt law was passed in 2005."
The deadliest county for fatalities per mile driven was Allendale, where one in 18 crashes proved fatal. Allendale is a rural county, with a population of 11,000.
Injuries from motorcycle accidents rose in 2008. Horry County, where Myrtle Beach is located, continues to have the highest percentage of crashes and injuries from motorcycles and has topped this list since 2005.
AAA Carolinas' 'Dangerous County' analysis ranks counties based on the likelihood of a certain type of crash based on total miles driven. Counties are listed in order of 2008 ranking:
- Total crashes: Charleston, Greenville, Richland, Pickens and Horry.
- Injury crashes: Charleston, Greenwood, Union, Horry and Pickens.
- Fatal crashes: Allendale, Barnwell, Chesterfield, Edgefield and Darlington.
For all vehicles in South Carolina the total number of crashes decreased about 4 percent to 107,252, and injury crashes dropped about 3 percent to 31,053.
Accidents and deaths involving heavy trucks saw the largest percentage drops, both greater than 20 percent. There were 49 fatalities involving tractor-trailers in 2008 compared to 61 in 2007. In Marion County, tractor-trailers were involved in the highest percentage of total crashes and fatal crashes.
The safest counties in 2008 for all motorists, with the smallest percentage of accidents per mile driven were:
- Total crashes: Calhoun, Fairfield, Allendale, Jasper and Clarendon.
- Injury crashes: Calhoun, Jasper, Clarendon, Fairfield and Lee.
- Fatal crashes: Calhoun, Abbeville, McCormick, Jasper and Clarendon.