CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A research group is demanding change after learning more people die on South Carolina's rural roads than anywhere in the nation.
Guard rails, wider lanes and paved shoulders are just a few improvements they're suggesting.
Trip, a non-profit research transportation group says rural roads in our state need more safety features like rumble strips.
"Adding paved shoulders, eliminating pavement drop offs, trying to clear as much as possible off the roadway," Rocky Moretti, director of policy and research for Trip.
Moretti says all of these improvements help make people safer when driving in those less populated areas.
"As we've seen across the country, these are the roads where traffic fatalities are occurring at significanlty higher rate and where investment at making roadways safer really pay tremendous dividend," said Moretti.
Trip released a report that shows the rate of deadly crashes on rural roads is nearly six times higher than all other roads in our state.
Moretti is concerned about money trouble with the federal highway program. It's a key source of funding for road improvement projects.
"In South Carolina it's absolutely critical that Congress resolve their transportation program in Washington and keep the dollars coming into the state. As you can see they're desperately needed to make the roads safer," said Moretti.
The State Department of Public Safety says saving lives also comes down to people practicing safe driving habits and paying attention to the road.
Moretti said, "At some point we're all going to make a mistake as a driver, but we don't want to pay for it with our lives. We can build roadways in a way that more forgiving when we make these minor mistakes as we're driving. Really the public needs to recognize a lot more than be done to make our roads safer."
A spokesperson with Charleston County says they have a Pavement Management System taking care of about 1700 miles of roadway in the county.
The spokesperson said because the State Department of Transportation is underfunded, they help make road improvements. When possible they add improvements such as two foot paved shoulders and rumble strips.
Two years ago Charleston County was 13th in the state for the number of rural fatalities, according to the State Department of Public Safety.
Orangeburg topped the list, Anderson was second and Horry county was third.