Lexington County sees surge in traffic fatalities in 2018, outpacing 2017

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - 30 people have been killed on Lexington County roadways since the beginning of 2018, according to data from the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Those deaths are more than double the number of people killed in the same time period last year when the county saw 14 people killed. According to Lance Corporal David Jones, more than half involved alcohol and the victim not wearing a seatbelt.

In single-car crashes where the driver survives, Jones said many come away with a selfish mentality.

"The whole way to jail the driver says, 'if I were to kill myself, I'm only hurting myself, I didn't hurt anybody else' and I disagree with that," Jones said. "When we go to knock on these doors and weeping mothers or weeping wives and loved ones answer, we see how it affects them as well."

The highway patrol is increasing the number of checkpoints throughout the county in an attempt to get those who are under the influence off of the road. However, it is not a cure-all, according to Jones. Last weekend, a man in Irmo was killed after leading police on a chase when he refused to stop at a checkpoint.

"We need drivers to take personal responsibility and focus on the road," Jones said. "There are some people on our roads who may not be looking out for your safety, so you need to drive defensively."

By that, Jones said getting over to the right-hand lane to allow someone coming up behind you to pass, rather than them tailgating. It can also mean using turn signals, obeying the speed limit, and always wearing your seatbelt.

"If you're going to the bar to get a few drinks, don't get behind the wheel of a car," Jones said. "Have that designated driver. Make sure you and everyone around you gets home safely."

In surrounding counties, Jones said the number of traffic fatalities is lower than this time last year. The state as a whole has seen 70 to 80 fewer traffic deaths so far this year than in 2017.

Fatal car crashes can also have a lasting impact on those who arrive first on the scene. First responders, while trained to handle stressful situations, are offered a variety of services to help cope with the job.

"I can't really think about it while on task, but afterwards, absolutely, you can always talk to somebody," Cpt. Bobby Wampler, an EMT with Lexington County, said. "If I'm amped up or I'm caught up in the mix of emotion if I see a child or infant with loss of life, then it's going to affect the overall outcome of my scene."

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The deadliest time of year on roadways across the United States is between Memorial Day and Labor Day and is often referred to by the law enforcement community as the "100 Deadliest Days."

Copyright 2018 WIS. All rights reserved.