High traffic fatalities prompt more local road enforcement

By T&D Staff
Sunday, March 04, 2007

Motorists can expect an increased presence of law enforcement in Orangeburg and Clarendon counties beginning next week and running throughout March, the South Carolina Highway Patrol announced Friday.

In 2006, 11 motorists were killed on I-95 in Clarendon County. There were 28 total fatalities in Clarendon County in 2006 compared to 17 in 2005. There were 52 fatalities in Orangeburg County in 2006 compared to 44 in 2005.

The Highway Patrol will be joined by as many as 13 local agencies as it begins an intensive enforcement crackdown on speeding, aggressive driving, seat belt and child restraint and other moving violations to prevent fatalities and collisions in Orangeburg and Clarendon counties.

“We are not seeing fatality numbers stabilize in these areas through conventional enforcement,” Highway Patrol Col. Russell Roark said. “Therefore, we will be placing a strong enforcement focus preceded by an education blitz in that area to inform motorists and influence positive driving behaviors.”

This area of the state is a major travel corridor used by tourists and out-of-state motorists. Lack of familiarity with the highway and fatigue from travel are proving deadly. Additionally, the state is approaching the busy spring travel season, including motorcycle rallies, spring break etc. The goal is to get the word out before the heavy influx of spring and summer travel season.

The Highway Patrol, including Troops One and Seven, will use a variety of vehicles, including motorcycles and high-performance patrol cars, to saturate I-95, I-26, U.S. 301 and surrounding areas. The Highway Patrol will be joined by local sheriff’s offices and police departments in the surrounding towns such as Santee, Manning, etc.

Factors in these deadly collisions include speeding, unlawful lane changes, following too closely, reckless driving, driving under the influence, pedestrian violations and violation of seat belt law. There were eight pedestrians killed in Orangeburg County alone last year.

Teams from the Highway Patrol, including troopers and civilians, have begun canvassing and distributing fliers and safety material in local towns around the enforcement area as well as businesses and convenience stores at exits along I-95 and I-26. The goal is to affect driving behavior through safety education before the enforcement begins. The public education and enforcement efforts will continue throughout the month of March.

The Highway Patrol will hold a media briefing at 10 a.m.at the Southbound Welcome Center on I-95 in Santee on Wednesday, March 7, as the enforcement effort kicks off.