MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – 47 million Americans are expected to hit the road this week to get to their 4th of July celebrations according to AAA. The heightened number of travelers taking to the roads has state law enforcement stepping up patrols to make sure drivers are staying safe. State Troopers say it’s already been a deadly year on South Carolina roads.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol says the number of traffic fatalities is higher through the first six months this year than the total number of traffic fatalities in all of 2020. State law enforcement agencies say they are stepping up efforts to keep Couth Carolina roadways safe.
Millions of Americans are gearing up for their first holiday together likely in more than a year.
“It’s exciting, I think people are excited after being cooped up during the pandemic ready to go and travel wherever they can,” says Mark Hutton who’s visiting Charleston with his family from Tennessee.
Experts say those venturing out by car for the holiday should expect to notice a difference saying they will likely feel the congestion on the roads and see a spike in prices at the pump. The jump in gas prices doesn’t come as a shock to everyone though.
“It’s kind of normal right I mean every time in the summer it goes up a little bit but this does seem a little, it hits pretty hard,” says Hutton.
While travel experts say the rebound is a good thing, it’s led to more fatalities on South Carolina roads. In 2020, South Carolina High Patrol Commander Col. Christopher Williams says there were 468 traffic fatalities in the state over the course of the year. Williams says those numbers are spiking in 2021 with 496 so far this year.
“South Carolina has followed a nationwide trend of increasing fatalities and collisions as well as vehicles traveling at excessive speeds and engaging in deadly driving behavior,” says Col. Williams.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety is creating Area Coordinated Enforcement Teams made up of Highway Patrol Troopers, State Transport Police Officers and more to crack down on reckless driving.
“And these teams were developed this summer to provide assistance to the seven highway patrol troops with a goal of improving response times of high call volumes and major traveled holidays,” says Col. Williams.
For Mark Hutton and his family who are just happy to be back on the road, Hutton says to slow down and enjoy the drive.
“There’s a lot of red lights and slamming on breaks and things like that the whole way down,” says Hutton. “There’s a lot of rage out there and so that’s my advice and take it easy.”
Troopers are already increasing patrols across the state days ahead of the holiday weekend. Col. Williams says the 4th of July weekend officially starts Friday afternoon and runs through Monday morning meaning motorists should keep an eye out for an increased presence on the roads.