Columbia– The South Carolina Department of Public Safety has a goal of ZERO highway fatalities as South Carolina celebrates the first official weekend of summer. A total of 12 motorists died on the roads last year during the long weekend that begins at 6 p.m. tonight and runs through Monday at midnight. Statewide highway fatalities stand at 269 this year compared to 270 at this time last year.
“The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day has been called the 100 Deadly Days of Summer because fatalities typically rise as people are off from work and out of school, heading to vacation spots,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. “I’m encouraging our troopers, officers and motorists to be part of the Target Zero Team and help change summer’s reputation to the 100 Safe Days of Summer.”
Troopers and officers will be busy this weekend as the second round of bikers pour into the state for Memorial Bike Week. Last week, there were ZERO motorcycle fatalities during Harley Bike Week. The influx of motorcycle traffic will mix with the increase of people travelling to the beach and mountains to enjoy the long weekend.
Troopers and STP officers will saturate the roads to prevent highway deaths, continuing a focus on speed and safety belts. SCDPS will be working with local officers over the 78-hour travel holiday. Law enforcement will hold public safety checkpoints, use radar to detect speed violations and use every available resource to remove drunk drivers from the roadways.
SCDPS kicked off its “Buckle Up South Carolina. It’s the law and it’s enforced.” campaign last week. SCDOT overhead message boards have been broadcasting the Buckle Up message to complement strong enforcement efforts. While overall safety belt use continues rising -- breaking records at 91.7 percent in 2013; nearly 55 percent of people killed -- who had access to seat belts -- last year were not wearing them. Director Smith remarked that this underscores the often fatal results of not buckling up.
SCHP Highway Patrol Col. Mike Oliver said that troopers will also be keeping a close eye on protecting vulnerable roadway users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, moped riders and motorcyclists.
“Motorists will see more blue lights as troopers focus on deterring aggressive and deadly driving behaviors,” Oliver said. “People often get complacent or let their excitement about their vacation distract them from the road on holiday weekends. Stay focused, plan rest breaks and watch your speed.”
Oliver encourages motorists to call *HP to report aggressive or impaired driving behaviors such as excessive speed, weaving in and out of lanes, driving drastically below the speed limit and ignoring traffic signals.