[image-1]The rural roads of South Carolina are ranked the deadliest in the nation, according to a new report examining fatality rates across the nation.

Compiled by TRIP, a nonprofit transportation research group, the study found that South Carolina’s rural roads were home to more than 3.8 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel — almost four times higher than the death rate on all other roads in the state. California placed second in the nation for deadliest rural roads, with almost 3.2 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel.
[content-2] The danger of South Carolina’s backroads is no secret to the state’s transportation directors. In February, S.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall presented the State of the SCDOT report, saying that 6,812 crashes resulting in death or serious injury had occurred in the state’s rural areas. At that time, the SCDOT called for an investment of $50 million to begin targeting South Carolina’s deadliest routes, reporting that 30 percent of all fatal crashes and serious collisions on rural roads took place on just over 5 percent of the entire transportation network.

“When people hear the word ‘rural,’ they often think of secondary roads, but most of the traffic is actually on rural primaries and interstates,” said AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety president Tiffany Wright in a statement released alongside the study. “With a new funding stream provided by the state legislature in 2017, SCDOT has announced a new Rural Roads Safety Program. We applaud the legislature and the department for taking this long-overdue step. We understand it will take time, but hopefully South Carolina is now on the right track to reduce traffic fatalities for all highway users.” [content-1] The SCDOT is currently accepting public comments on how best to shape the Rural Road Safety Program until July 11. The state department’s ranking of which roads are in most need of attention is based on the rates of fatal and serious injuries resulting from collisions. Among suggested improvements listed with the project are providing “rumble strips, paved shoulders, improved signage, pavement markings, guardrails, cable barriers, specialized pavement treatments, and improved clear zones along the roadway.”

Following the public comments period, the department will look at all available funding and recommend projects for inclusion in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

Four Charleston County roadways are up for consideration in Phase 1 of the Rural Road Safety Program. These include 15 miles of S-20 on Johns Island, 20 miles of US-17 extending north from Mt. Pleasant, and a 3-mile section of SC-61 beyond I-526. Those wishing to submit comments regarding the project plan can do so here.

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