COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – As one of the busiest travel weekends of the year begins, South Carolina Highway Patrol says they'll be staging nighttime seat belt enforcement across the state.
Highway Patrol recently kicked-off their Buckle-Up South Carolina campaign saying the majority of drivers killed at night are found not to be wearing seat belts. They say there's been an increase in the number of people who have died and were not wearing seat belts, and statistics show the chances of someone dying in a crash increase at night.
Tonight at 8pm, SCHP will begin conducting night time seat belt enforcement in the Midlands and across the state. Troopers say it's not a checkpoint, but there will be officers in well lit areas who will be on the lookout for drivers not wearing a seat belt.
"[Drivers] wear their seat belt in the daytime cause they know we're out there looking, it's easier for us to see," said Lance Corporal Brent Kelly with SCHP. "But at nighttime they don't want to wear it, but that's when your risk goes up. We want to let everybody know just because it's at night and we can't see, you're still increasing your chances of losing your life in a crash."
SCHP says no seat belts or helmets were used in almost all of the deaths reported during the Memorial Day holiday weekend over the last two years.
In 2011, there were eight fatalities between Friday at 6pm and Monday at Midnight. Five were automobile-related accidents, two involved motorcyclists and one was a pedestrian. Highway patrol says no seat belts were worn in the accidents and the motorcyclists were not wearing helmets.
Last year there were also eight deaths on South Carolina roadways over the weekend, and Highway Patrol says again no seat belts were used and only one motorcyclist was wearing a helmet.
Highway patrol believes these deaths can be prevented by buckling up. "We're really concentrating on 'Target Zero' which is zero fatalities, and we can reach that goal as long as everybody is out there being responsible on the highways, doing the right thing and obeying the traffic laws," said Lance Corporal Brent Kelly with SCHP.
In addition to focusing on seat belt enforcement, SCHP will be conducting traditional public safety checkpoints. If you do get stopped by a trooper , you can expect that troopers will also be looking for impaired drivers and any other traffic violations.
To date, SCHP says there has been a year-to-year decrease in the number of fatalities on South Carolina roads. As of Midnight on May 22nd, SCHP reports there have been 242 fatalities on South Carolina roadways, which is 91 fewer than this time last year.
Heading into the 100 Deadly Days of Summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day), SCHP says they want to see that trend continue. AAA says seven of the 10 most deadly days on roadways occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Lance Corporal Kelly says one of enforcement areas of the weekend will be set-up at Broad River Road and St. Andrews Road.