After new 4th of July numbers, troopers push to bring traffic deaths to zero

After new 4th of July numbers, troopers push to bring traffic deaths to zero

(WIS) - New numbers from the South Carolina Highway Patrol show a decrease in deaths over the July 4th Holiday, but state troopers say more can be done.

There were 14 deaths over the holiday in 2017 and 2 this year. Public safety officials want to see that number at zero though.

They tell us both fatalities this year occurred because people were not wearing seat belts. Highway Patrol says they want to see less distracted driving, less DUIs, and more people wearing their seatbelts.

Trooper David Jones with the South Carolina Highway Patrol says that during the July 4th holiday, they had 6 DUIs in Richland County and 11 in Richland County.

They also handed out 5 citations for texting in Lexington County and 6 in Richland County.

WIS was able to catch several drivers texting and driving. Highway Patrol says while it is technically legal in the state to use your phone while stopped at a red light or stop sign, it is not allowed once you start moving.

"All too often we see where people don't put their phone down and they continue on. We see at child pickup lines where moms will be waiting to pick their child up and they're steady texting and they're just driving forward at five miles an hour, but yet, they're still moving and it's against the law at that point," said Highway Patrol Trooper David Jones.

"We've all seen that person, we've said 'oh my goodness you're drunk,' and then we come to find out as we get closer, we see the glow of a cell phone, or we see the person who's all over the road and we go to pass them on the interstate they're looking down at their phone and they're driving all over the road. So we know that plays a big part in some of our collisions," Jones said. "When we see people drive distracted, we see where first responders may be on the shoulder of the road and get hit because someone's not paying attention."

Their best advice is to get off the road, or at the very least, use some sort of hands-free device.

There is an increase in technology in vehicles that would help you do that, but Trooper David Jones says they still see people not using those options and driving distracted.

From Jan. 1 to July 8, preliminary numbers show there have been 494 traffic deaths in SC.

Richland County saw 25, Lexington County saw 43. Lexington County saw 24 this same period last year. Trooper Jones says when they look at some of these calls in general, over 60 percent were alcohol related and over half had access to seat belts and did not use them.

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