DUI the reason for increased Lexington County traffic deaths, says SCHP officer

SCHP file photo

The total number of South Carolina traffic fatalities has collectively decreased in 2018. Compared to the 400 deaths by May of last year, there is a 33 person difference, with 367 traffic deaths reported so far this year.

Despite the overall decrease, Lexington County’s numbers have not followed the same pattern of decrease. The number of traffic deaths in Lexington County from the past three years at this time in the year, have ranged from 14 to 16. But, there have already been 34 traffic fatalities in 2018 for the county. Not only are Lexington County’s numbers higher than last year, but they are the highest number of any county in the state. Second is Spartanburg County, with 29 fatalities.

The startling numbers pose the question: is there a reason for the increase? South Carolina Highway Patrol’s Lieutenant Bob Beres said there is a notable factor. Beres mentioned that 57 percent of Lexington County’s fatalities have been due to driving under the influence, occurring most often between 9 p.m. Saturdays to 3 a.m. Sundays. The majority of deaths have not been on the interstate, but on secondary roads, according to Beres. He also said there are a few other contributing factors as to why the fatalities have occurred. “Lack of safety belt use, distraction and speed continue to be some of our leading reasons for deadly collisions – not only here, but throughout the state,” he said.

Beres said he and other local law enforcement are working together, and taking the numbers very seriously. “When we see an upward trend in fatalities, that is always troubling for us because they are not just numbers, those lives lost are people’s family members,” he said. He strongly suggests that drivers take these numbers seriously, too. “We want people to put traffic safety at the forefront of their mind,” said Beres.

While Lexington County numbers have spiked, Richland County fatality numbers have remained relatively the same, with 22 fatalities so far this year, compared to the 19 fatalities that were reported by May of 2017, and 22 in 2016.

Anyone who notices an impaired or reckless driver on the road can always report the vehicle by calling *HP.