Troopers: Highway fatalities in SC twice that of national average

COLUMBIA, SC (WISTV) - In the last two months, the South Carolina Highway Patrol has seen a huge spike in the number of fatalities for the year.

The numbers were running below last year's total up until November, but forty fatalities later and we are just about tied with last year's number.

In 2011, they were 824 statewide traffic fatalities, and this year troopers say there have been 823.

A lot of lives have been lost in the short period of time and troopers are hoping they don't have another fatality before the year ends.

DUI, speeding and not wearing a seatbelt are the three common denominators when it comes to fatal collisions.

Trooper Kelley Hughes sees the deadly combination all too often, and says alcohol is usually involved

"The national average for alcohol related fatalities have been somewhere within the range of 32 to 34 percent," said Hughes.

In the Midlands, Hughes says the numbers are double the national average and a crackdown on driving and driving is set to roll out New Year's weekend.

"We'll have partnerships with the local sheriffs and police departments all across the state," Hughes added.  "We will have a lot of DUI checkpoints; we'll have saturated areas where we see most DUI crashes occurring and well have some nighttime safety belt enforcement."

But a DUI is not the worst thing that can happen to you.

Trooper Hughes has worked with many families who have lost loved ones on SC roadways, and says it was hard to see so many fatalities during the holiday months.

"We do all the traffic enforcement, we saw the loss," said Hughes. "It's very sad to see those numbers go away so quickly when we thought we would have forty more people alive this year. We are back down to just one."

Troopers say 823 deaths averages out to having to notify at least two families per day, that their loved one has passed away.

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