Motor vehicle accidents happen every day. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, 142,406 motor vehicle accidents took place across the state in just one recent year.
To put that figure into perspective, it accounts for one collision every 3.7 minutes. In addition, motor vehicle accidents in South Carolina cause injuries every 9.1 minutes and approximately one death every 8 hours. The sheer number of accidents and related injuries is alarming. As a result, Insurify has ranked South Carolina fifth among the states with the most car accidents, with a fatality rate 72 percent higher than the national average.
So why do car accidents happen? What can you do to prevent them? Below are some of the top causes of car accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Contact an experienced car accident attorney to learn more about your legal rights and what steps to take to protect them.
Across the country, speeding is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle fatalities. In South Carolina, driving too fast for conditions accounts for over 22 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities. Speeding was also reported to be the leading cause of fatal accidents that year.
Speeding increases stopping distance, decreases reaction time, and makes it harder to control a vehicle. If you see a speeding driver approaching from behind, do not attempt to maneuver your vehicle in a way that forces them to slow down. Tapping your brakes or driving slower can make the situation much worse. Instead, move your vehicle out of the way to allow them to pass. If you believe a driver is traveling at dangerously excessive speeds, contact the police.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Once again, South Carolina makes it on to a top ten list—for one of the worst states for drunk driving. Recently, AAA Insurance Company reported that seven out of the top twelve worst states for DUIs are located in the South, making it the deadliest region for drunk driving. South Carolina ranks as the eighth-worst state for drunk driving. Even worse, the state ranks third among states with the highest DUI fatality rates.
Drunk driving is a serious problem in South Carolina and extremely dangerous for anyone on the road. Driving under the influence impairs judgment, slows reaction time, and reduces coordination. If you suspect a driver is under the influence, do not hesitate to call 911.
Common signs of drunk driving typically include erratic behavior such as:
- Sudden stops
- Sudden acceleration
Failure to Yield the Right of Way
As drivers, we rely on traffic laws to ensure we can safely travel from one destination to another while sharing the road with others. We wait for our turn at stop signs, stop at red lights, and use blinkers to let others know our intended course of action. So when drivers fail to yield the right of way, others may not expect it.
In many cases, drivers only have mere seconds to react to the others on the roadway in an attempt to avoid an accident. Behind speeding and driving under the influence, failure to yield the right of way is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle fatalities in South Carolina.
To prevent this type of accident, it’s helpful to know where they occur.
Some of the top locations for failure to yield the right of way accidents include:
- Stop signs
- Unmarked intersections
- Highway onramps
Distracted driving is an increasingly common problem across the state and country. While cell phone usage is the primary culprit, a driver can become distracted by passengers, the radio, or even objects outside the vehicle. Currently, it is illegal to text or compose an email while driving in South Carolina. The state hopes to expand the current law to limit all cell phone use while driving. If a driver causes an accident while they are on the phone, the court may impose punitive damages against the driver.
Weather or Poor Visibility
Sometimes, it’s not poor driving that is the problem, but rather poor visibility caused by environmental conditions. Rain, fog, or dark roads can make it difficult to see other drivers or dangers on the road. If you have to drive in inclement weather, use extreme caution. Turn on your headlights to ensure other drivers can see your vehicle. If visibility gets too bad, pull over until you can see better. If at all possible, avoid driving at night or during inclement weather.
Tips to Help You Stay Safe on the Road
When sharing the road with others, your actions matter. Take steps not only to prevent accidents but also to reduce the risk of serious injury in the event of an accident.
Some tips to keep yourself safe include:
- Buckle up: According to the NHTSA, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury for front-seat occupants of passenger cars by up to 45 percent. For light trucks, the risk is reduced by up to 60 percent. Always wear your seatbelt, regardless of where or how far you are traveling.
- Look both ways: Drivers won’t always obey the law. And sometimes a vehicle may appear where you don’t expect it. Always look both ways before you cross an interaction or make a turn, even if you have the right of way.
- Plan your drive: Accidents happen when we are running late, get lost, or can’t see. Know where you are going before you get on the road. Check the traffic and weather and avoid driving at night if possible.
- Take a different route: If you have ever found yourself arriving at a destination, but can’t remember exactly how you got there, it may be time to try a different route. As humans, we can become so accustomed to a particular route that we almost zone out while driving. Zoning out while driving can cause complacency, lowering awareness and leading to an accident.
Know Your Rights
Despite our best efforts, accidents continue to occur daily. If you or someone you love are in an accident, you have legal rights. The law allows accident victims who sustain injuries to seek damages from the at-fault party. If you have questions or need help after an accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney.
Hughey Law Firm LLC
1311 Chuck Dawley Blvd. | Suite 201
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464