CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Public Safety is reminding motorists that troopers and officers will be increasing enforcement to prevent collisions especially caused by impaired 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. 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 77 fewer fatalities than last year at this time. We need the public's help to continue that trend."
There have been 343 fatalities this year compared to 420 deaths at this time last year; 143 people died not wearing safety belts; and there have been 103 vulnerable roadway user deaths (motorcycle, moped, bicycle, and pedestrian) compared to 139 last year.
Highway Patrol Col. 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 and air pressure in 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 at http://www.scdps.gov/schp/ and SCDOT traffic information at: http://www.511sc.org/;