CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The number of people dying on South Carolina roads is spiking. Nearly 50 more people have died this year, than this time last year, according to a new report from the South Carolina Department of Public Health.
"I don't think they realize just how deadly our roadways are," said Highway Patrol Cpl. Hannah Wimberly.
So far this year, 347 people driving or riding in a motor vehicle have been killed. That's up almost 50 this time last year.
While Berkeley and Charleston County's road fatalities are only up by a few, Dorchester County's have more than doubled.
11 people have been killed so far this year, this time last year they had five, according to the SCDPS report.
"This has a lot to do with people continuing to drink and drive, not wearing their seat belts," said Wimberly. "We've lost a lot of people not only on the interstate, but on the back roads too."
South Carolina's rural roads now rank second in the nation for deadliest, according to a new report by TRIP, a national transportation research group.
"A lot of people choose to take the rural roads, the back way because they know law enforcement might not be out there or its the quicker way to get home," said Wimberly.
Wimberly says drivers have to be even more aware on the packed roads during the summer months.
"A lot more people are traveling this time of year. its not necessarily people from South Carolina, but people who are coming to visit our state," said Wimberly.
Highway Patrol is now in their 100 Deadly Days of Summer campaign, which runs through Veterans Day.
"We try to be proactive, get out here and do safety check points and get people who chose to drink and drive off the roadways," said Wimberly.
Law enforcement is also looking for drivers who aren't buckling up. Wimberly says most of the fatal wrecks involve someone not wearing a seat belt.
"We actually can pull you over for not wearing your seat belt, its actually a primary law now here in the state of South Carolina," said Wimberly.
If you're caught, you won't get a warning. It's a $25 ticket but it doesn't add points to your license. Each South Carolina driver can get a maximum of 12 points from driving tickets before your license is suspended.
"We're not out here just to give you a ticket, but to possibly save your life," said Wimberly.
If you get pulled over for doing something wrong on the road, but you're wearing your seat belt, Highway Patrol will give you a little pat on the back.
All summer they're giving a free sandwich or frozen lemonade coupon from Chick Fil A. It's part of their Click in for Chicken campaign.