SC Department of Public Safety announces summer travel safety plan
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Department of Public Safety announced a partnership with the Department of Transportation that will allow for an increase in highway patrol officers, new patrol vehicles, and law enforcement technology ahead of the busy Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The period from Memorial Day to Labor Day is what the department calls the “100 Deadly Days of Summer” where there is a spike in travel and in fatal traffic accidents. During the 2020 Fourth of July weekend, the department reports 11 deaths in the state.
Year-to-date reports from the department show increased collisions and fatalities compared to 2020 and 2019. The department hopes that having an increased presence and enforcement abilities will help prevent accidents and deaths.
New technology installed in highway patrol vehicles called SmartCop will be used by Area Coordinated Enforcement (ACE) teams across the state. The system provides real-time data directly to officers regarding collisions, giving specific details about when and where the accidents occur.
The department plans to continue using SmartCop long-term to analyze where more enforcement is needed in the state according to auto accident heat maps. Commander of SC Highway Patrol, Colonel Christopher Williamson, says that this will allow the department to make the best use of its workforce.
“We are using those statistics more effectively to direct our troopers to those exact roadways and the precise times so that we can conduct proactive enforcement to curtail these deadly collisions,” Williamson said.
He says that the increased number of officers this weekend and throughout the summer will allow for better enforcement of traffic laws and a crackdown on dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Williamson said that the uptick in law enforcement presence on the roads is here to stay long past the 100 Deadly Days of Summer.
“They are there. You see a new trend with the South Carolina Highway Patrol that will continue. And we’re going to be real aggressive about it,” Williamson said.
Increased travel has also increased the demand for gas. Petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy said that higher gas prices have not peaked yet.
“It’s going to be a little bit of a pricier July 4th, a lot of that happening because the economic recovery, as we’ve seen COVID cases decline, America has reopened and Americans are taking to the road,” said De Haan.
He says that gas prices will continue to rise until mid-to-late-July where they will then slowly decline into the fall.
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