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Highway deaths down in S.C. in ’08

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By Jesef Williams

Fewer people died on South Carolina roads in 2008 compared to the year before, though the numbers in Lancaster County stayed the same.

The S.C. Highway Patrol reports there were 903 highway fatalities in the state last year, a drop from 1,077 fatalities the year before.

Lance Cpl. Jeff Gaskin said the decrease may be partly due to what troopers believe is an increase in seat-belt usage. He also highlights the Highway Patrol’s continued partnership with other law enforcement groups and the outreach efforts to educate the public on highway-related dangers.

“We had a significant decrease, but it’s not a number that we’re happy with,” Gaskin said. “We’re going to continue to use data that tells where the collisions happen and when.”

Lancaster County saw 18 people die on its roads in 2008 – the same number for 2007.

“We’re want to keep partnering with local agencies and the community to hopefully reduce the fatality rate even more in 2009,” Gaskin said.  

Local New Year holiday stats

Through the recent New Year holiday, the Highway Patrol had established checkpoints on major and secondary roads, specifically targeting speeding, lack of seat-belt use and driving under the influence (DUI).

In the agency’s Troop D, which consists on Lancaster and Chesterfield counties, troopers issued 539 traffic tickets and 365 warnings from Dec. 31 through Sunday.

There were 210 tickets issued for non seat-belt use and 14 arrests made for DUI.

Of the 665 occupants who had access to seat belts, 62 percent of them were not wearing one, Gaskin said.

Troopers also investigated 19 collisions in the two counties, none of which were fatal.

Contact reporter  Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152