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Understanding Rising South Carolina Crash Risks

In South Carolina, there was a 21 percent increase in the number of fatal car accidents which occurred in the first six months of 2015, compared with in the first six months of 2104. When comparing the number of motor vehicle accident fatalities from January to June of 2015 versus January to June of 2013, there was a 29 percent increase in total deaths in car wrecks. In 2015, 445 people died in collisions in the state in the first half of the year, compared with 367 in the same time period in 2014 and 344 in the same time period in 2013. National Safety Council data reveals South Carolina was among more than 30 states seeing a rise in fatalities in 2015. car copy

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates the rise in car crash deaths in 2015, compared with in 2014, occurred nationwide. The data for the entire year revealed 32,675 fatalities in 2014 and 8.1 percent more deaths in car accidents in 2015.  The fatality rate for both years was also calculated by determining the number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. In 2014, the fatality rate was 1.07 and in 2015 the fatality rate was 4.4 percent higher.

Why Are Car Accidents Causing More Deaths in 2015?

Because of the rise in car accident fatalities, auto insurers are raising rates and safety experts and insurance executives are exploring reasons for the rise in fatalities. Warren Buffet, who owns Berkshire Hathaway which owns Geico, believes the reason for the higher death rate is texting. Distraction among drivers accounts for one out of four crashes according to Wall Street Journal, and NHTSA attributed 10 percent of fatal crashes to distracted drivers in 2014.

There may also be other explanations as well. Wall Street Journal reports on speculation that rising death rates are explained simply by rising numbers of people on the road. In the first six months of 2015, there was a 3.54 percent increase in travel. During this time period, a new record of 1.54 trillion vehicle miles was reached.   Gas prices are also down to their lowest levels since 2010, and the first half of 2015 saw the unemployment rate fall to 5.1 percent. Lower costs of fuel, more jobs, and better economic conditions all help to explain why there is so much more driving going on and why so many more crashes happen due to a lot of people being on the roads.

Drivers need to make some changes to adjust for higher crash risks, especially if the elevated number of miles traveled remains the same or continues to climb. Motorists should avoid behavior which significantly increases the risk of collisions, like texting or driving drunk (which NHTSA says causes 1/3 of fatal collisions).  South Carolina drivers can do their part to stop upward car accident fatality trends in 2016, and NHTSA has urged the bad news about car accident deaths from this year to serve as a "call for action" to encourage drivers to do better in the future.

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