South Carolina is the worst state in the nation in regards to the percentage of drunken driving deaths, according to a recent study by the National Highway Safety Administration.
South Carolina had 767 traffic deaths in 2013; of those fatalities, 335, or 44 percent, were attributable to drunken driving. The national average is currently 31 percent.
Nearby states, such as North Carolina and Georgia, are both lower than the national average, at 29 percent and 25 percent respectively. Utah has the lowest percent of drunken driving deaths, at 17 percent.
While alcohol-related traffic deaths in South Carolina have decreased by 4 percent between 2012 and 2013, the state still has a lot to work on.
“Improvements aren’t being made fast enough, and it’s a shame that we lead the nation in such devastating circumstances,” MADD South Carolina Program Director Steven Burritt said. “It forces us to ask ourselves as a state once again whether we’re doing everything we know we should to drive these numbers down. We know the answer is that we’re not.”
State Trooper Hannah Wimberly of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said the department made over 500 DUI arrests in Beaufort and Jasper counties alone.
“With the amount of troopers working out here as hard as they can, we had many safety checkpoints out here to try and get these drivers off the roadway before they hurt or killed somebody,” Wimberly said.
Highway patrol has enacted several tactics to increase DUI arrests, such as increased patrol, DUI checkpoints and various targeted initiatives.
“DUI is not just a statistic…it’s somebody’s family and friends that you need to take into consideration,” said Wimberly. “If people continue to drink and drive, we will continue to arrest them and our numbers will continue to rise.”
If you have received a DUI or know someone that has, please contact John Bateman at 844.DUI.ALLY