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KellyGram – The Disturbing Rise of Traffic Fatalities in South Carolina

 

 

Over the past several weeks, I have been watching the media reports in horror as we’ve seen a sharp uptick in deadly automobile crashes around the Midlands and throughout South Carolina. With our state already ranked as home to the second-worst drivers in the United States—in large part due to the number of DUIs and traffic fatalities we see per capita—this increase is especially alarming. Last weekend alone, thirteen people lost their lives in avoidable automobile accidents in South Carolina, four of which occurred in the Midlands. On Monday, tragedy struck once more when a motorcyclist was involved in a crash with a semi-truck on I-26. On Wednesday, our Midlands roadways claimed two more victims—one in a crash on I-20 and another on Farrow Road. To say that this has been a grim week for the people of South Carolina is an understatement, and it is time that we put measures in place to prevent the loss of more lives—lives of our parents, of our sons and daughters, of our brothers and sisters and friends.

My career requires regular travel between our offices in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Winnsboro, and seeing the victims of traffic accidents walk through my doors almost daily, I strive to remain attentive and alert at all times when I’m behind the wheel. The greatest temptation for me—and for most drivers—is to reach for my phone on long stretches of road, but these handheld devices are undoubtedly contributing to the drastic rise in accidents. Last week, I was driving through Georgia and realized, for the first time, that our neighboring state has banned drivers from holding cellphones while driving. South Carolina, on the other hand, has only banned texting and driving—a law that is difficult to enforce, as drivers can simply avoid a penalty by stating that they were using their phone for reasons other than texting. If you find this reality as frustrating as I do, I think we can agree that it’s time for the General Assembly to enact a hands-free law similar to Georgia’s, and similar to those in nearly half of our nation’s states.

But until we see these measures implemented, we can work to decrease the number of traffic fatalities in our state by acknowledging that we are neither invincible nor perfect drivers, and by being more responsible behind the wheel. Let’s make a promise to ourselves and others on the roadways to put down our phones, to follow the speed limits, and to call a cab or a friend rather than driving after indulging. After all—our lives depend on it.

 

Sincerely,

 

Mike Kelly

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