How safe are South Carolina’s roads? In 2017, nearly 1,000 individuals died due to single- or multiple-car collisions within the state. Numbers like this have led to South Carolina being designated the 3rd most dangerous state to drive in.
Even when a collision between vehicles or a motorcycle wreck doesn’t end in a fatality, the damage to the health and safety of the people involved, as well as the financial costs of treatment, recovery, and repairs to the damaged vehicles, can be enormous.
At Bluestein Attorneys, we have experience working with individuals in the aftermath of serious vehicle collisions, including motorcycle wrecks and wrecks involving tractor trailers. We’re here to help when it comes to representing individuals dealing with the emotional, physical, and financial costs that result from collisions between vehicles.
We’ll take a look at the top causes of car accidents in South Carolina, ways to stay safe on the roads, what to do after a car wreck occurs, and what you need to know about automobile insurance before a collision happens.
If you’ve been involved in a collision between two vehicles, a motorcycle wreck, or a wreck involving tractor trailers, a legal representative may be able to help you ensure that you are able to recover damages when it comes to your personal injury, damages to your vehicle, or even vehicle replacement.
Request a FREE Automobile Accident Consultation
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Why Are South Carolina’s Roads So Deadly?
South Carolina’s overall traffic fatality rate trended slightly downwards between 2016 and 2017, and hopefully 2018 will continue this downward trend. Unfortunately, individual pockets in South Carolina, like Richland and Lexington counties, have seen the opposite effect.
Both fatal and nonfatal vehicle collisions are rising in Columbia and the surrounding areas, and it’s worth taking a closer look at why.
Learn more about the rising rates of collisions and how you can protect yourself on our blog.
What Are the Top Causes of Car Accidents in South Carolina?
While South Carolinians often complain about the quality of our roads, unsafe roads actually don’t cause car wrecks as often as many people think.
Instead, the top causes of car accidents in South Carolina fall into two categories: weather, and everything else, primarily human behavior.
Scroll down to keep reading or jump to a specific cause to learn more:
Top Cause #1: Inclement Weather and Unsafe Driving Conditions
One of the most common reasons for car wrecks in South Carolina is simply bad weather! We’ve all been caught in an unexpected thunderstorm or found ourselves white-knuckling through sleet as the roads grew increasingly slick and dangerous.
The easiest way to avoid becoming a weather-related car wreck statistic? Take a few precautionary steps:
- Check weather reports before making long drives, and plan accordingly.
- Listen to emergency weather broadcasts. If the weatherman or the radio suggests you stay off the roads, they’re making those suggestions for a reason. Don’t risk unsafe driving for anything less than a true emergency.
- Never drive through water. What looks like just a couple of inches of water could be hiding a washed-out roadway underneath. Your car could be forced off the road or even stall out in floodwaters, and your chance of losing control and becoming involved in a car wreck sharply spikes when water is on the road.
- Stay up to date on preventative maintenance like tire rotations and alignment checks. Tires with low tread and pressure are more likely to slip and slide in bad weather.
- Slow down and allow more distance between yourself and other cars to reduce the chance of collision if you skid or have to brake suddenly.
Taking precautions can help make it less likely that you will be involved in a car accident due to poor weather conditions, but there will always be a risk with other drivers on the road. If you’ve been involved in a collision between vehicles due to inclement weather, we’d be happy to speak with you. Just click below to contact us at any time.
Top Cause #2: Ignoring Street Signs and Running Stoplights
It will likely come as no surprise to you that ignoring street signs and driving through red lights often cause vehicle collisions in South Carolina. For many Columbia citizens making their way to work, passing car wrecks caused by someone disregarding traffic signals is a common, if not daily, occurrence.
You can lessen your chances of being involved in one of these car accidents by never running a red light or “rolling through” a stop sign yourself. Also, wait a beat after the light turns green to be sure no traffic will attempt to hurry through at the tail-end of a yellow light.
This can lessen your chance of being involved in a car wreck, but it cannot remove that chance entirely. In fact, car wrecks caused by ignoring or outright disobeying traffic laws may include “hit and run” collisions, where the at-fault party drives away without staying to exchange insurance information and wait for law enforcement to arrive.
If this happens to you, it’s important to know what to do if you are the victim of a hit-and-run. Be prepared for the possibility by taking some time to check out the tips on our blog.
Have you been involved in a hit-and-run car accident in Columbia, SC? Request your free automobile collision consultation at any time just by clicking the button below.
Top Cause #3: Tailgating is One of the Most Dangerous Things You Can Do Behind the Wheel
Tailgating is one of the most dangerous things you can do behind the wheel.
When you think of your vehicle’s stopping distance — that is, how long it takes you to come to a complete stop — you need to consider your reaction time in addition to your braking distance. If the vehicle in front suddenly brakes, it can take up to two full seconds for the average person to notice the brake lights and put their own foot on the brake. After that, it will take several more seconds for your vehicle to substantially slow down and even longer to come to a complete stop.
The average suggestion is to leave about one car length for every ten miles an hour you are driving. This means leaving about three car lengths between you and the car in front of you when driving on a slower road, and up to 7-8 car lengths when traveling on a higher-speed highway or interstate.
Far too many drivers fail to leave a safe distance between themselves and the cars in front of them, and tailgating is incredibly dangerous for everyone involved. It’s far more difficult to see potential obstacles in the road if you are sticking too close to the driver in front of you, and you put yourself and everyone in your car at a much greater risk of serious injury if a wreck does occur.
In fact, you put everyone in the car ahead of you at more serious risk as well, as they are more likely to be pushed into oncoming traffic or into the car ahead of them if they are hit by another vehicle traveling at high speed.
Have you been hit by another driver who was far too close for safety when the collision occurred? Was tailgating a factor in your recent car wreck and you’re wondering how it affects your ability to recoup the financial costs of recovery and repair to your vehicle? Just click the button below to request your free consultation.
Top Cause #4: Distracted Driving
While texting doesn’t yet top the list of causes of car accidents in South Carolina, texting and other distracted driving behaviors are contributing to more car wrecks each year.
In the time it takes you simply to grab your phone, check a text message, and put that phone back down, the average highway driver will have traveled the full length of a football field without their eyes on the road. Just think of how much can happen in that simple span of distance, and you’ll realize why it’s essential to take the danger that comes with texting and driving very seriously.
Texting and driving, alongside other distracted driving behaviors, involve intentional negligence. Drivers are considered to have a “duty of care” towards other drivers on the road, and someone texting behind the wheel is intentionally choosing to neglect that duty of care and put everyone around them at risk.
National data has shown that a staggering 64% of car accidents involve cell phone usage, and vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for those aged 15-25, many of whom are incredibly prone to thinking texting while driving is “no big deal”.
Putting your phone down could save a life.
Whether you’ve been pulled over for texting while driving or you’ve been the victim in a car wreck where the at-fault party was texting or otherwise distracted behind the wheel, Bluestein Attorneys has the experience to ensure your rights are fully represented in a court of law. Read more on our blog:
Request your FREE Automobile Collision consultation just by clicking the button below.
Top Cause #5: Driving Under the Influence
It’s easy to assume that “driving under the influence” refers to individuals who have been consuming alcohol, but many types of controlled substances can impair drivers and cause serious safety concerns.
Drivers with a Blood Alcohol Content (or BAC) or .08% or higher are considered too impaired to legally drive by law, and drunk (or otherwise impaired) driving is a factor in every one out of three car wrecks in the United States. In 2015, South Carolina was ranked worst in the nation for percentage of car wrecks caused by drunk driving, and cutting those numbers down is an essential step in increasing road safety in our state.
The opioid epidemic that continues to grip the United States has also raised the number of vehicular collisions involving the misuse of opiates and other prescription drugs and controlled substances.
Don’t risk your safety or the safety of others for the sake of having a drink. Instead, always have one Designated Driver or call a cab, Uber, or Lyft to take you home and go back for your vehicle in the morning. Don’t be afraid to take a friend’s keys if they are not sober enough to drive — inconveniencing them in the moment could be the difference between life and death later on.
If you witness someone you believe to be driving while drunk or otherwise impaired on the road, try to avoid getting close. Report the situation to the police. Signs that a person may be driving drunk include:
- Weaving, swerving, or drifting towards the center line
- Wide turns
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Braking or stopping erratically without reason
- Driving with headlights off after dark
- Almost hitting an object or another vehicle
If you have been the victim in a car wreck involving a drunk driver or someone impaired by controlled substances, you deserve representation. Request your free consultation by clicking the button below.
Tractor Trailer Accidents
Wrecks involving tractor trailers are on the rise nationwide, and South Carolina is no exception. Since 2009, tractor trailer collisions have risen more than 16%, in no small part due to regulation changes that have truck drivers on the road for longer hours, towing heavier loads, and with fewer chances to get some rest.
In fact, when we took a look into the top causes of tractor trailer wrecks, we found that four out of every five wrecks involving tractor trailers was caused by either driver or company error. These drivers are not acting alone — their actions are often dictated by the companies who employ them. In the event of a wreck involving a tractor trailer, the employer is liable for actions of his or her employees in certain circumstances, and someone injured after a wreck involving a tractor trailer may be able to recover compensation from the company who employed the driver at the time of the collision.
Wondering what to do after a tractor trailer wreck? Curious as to how tractor trailer wrecks are different from large truck collisions? Find out more using our Wrecks Involving Tractor Trailers tag on our blog or by clicking the graphic below:
If you’re concerned about having your individual rights fully represented after a tractor trailer collision, request your FREE Automobile Accident consultation just by clicking the button below.
What You Can Do to Help Stay Safe on South Carolina’s Roads
Unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do that will totally remove the risk of being involved in a car wreck in South Carolina. Even if your behavior on the road is absolutely perfect, the simple existence of other drivers or inclement weather means that it’s likely you’ll be involved in at least one car wreck in your lifetime.
What you can do is minimize your risk by taking a few safety precautions when you get behind the wheel:
- Always wear your seat belt. Young children should be in carseats or booster seats until they hit the weight limit specified by law, and adults should be careful to ensure their seat belts are always fastened.
- Do not text or operate your phone while driving. If you don’t have a hands-free headset or other way to use your phone without taking your hands off the wheel, then just don’t use your phone. If you must take a call, pull off the road into a parking lot or other safe spot.
- Motorcycle riders should always wear their protective gear, including helmets and proper footwear.
- Get your oil changed, tires rotated, and alignment checked regularly, as well as performing any other routine maintenance to keep your vehicle in good operating condition.
- Obey all traffic signs and stoplights.
- Drive defensively and stay at or under the designated legal speed limit.
- Follow the South Carolina DMV’s guide for Road Safety in poor visibility or other inclement weather conditions.
While these steps can’t do away with the potential for a collision, they can mitigate your risk. If you find yourself involved in a vehicle collision and you’re looking to ensure that your rights are fully represented, Bluestein Attorneys would be happy to help. We can sit down with you, go over your specific situation, and work with you on deciding the next best step for you.
Just click the button below to request your free consultation.
Involved in a Car Wreck? Here’s What to Do Next:
Have you been involved in a car wreck? Let us walk you through what to do next.
Car wrecks are incredibly jarring for everyone involved, and it is likely that you’ll find yourself frozen in the first few seconds after a collision occurs. Whether you are the at-fault party or you are the victim in a vehicle collision, your first steps after the wreck should be largely the same:
- Move your vehicle to a safe area out of the road, if possible. In a serious accident this may not be doable, in which case try to put on your hazards or take some other step to alert oncoming drivers of an obstruction.
- Put your car in park, take your keys out of the ignition, and then step out of the vehicle if it is safe to do so.
- Check on all parties involved. The driver or occupants of the other vehicle may be too seriously injured to get out on their own. Only offer direct assistance if it is safe for you to do so. Individuals with serious injuries may need trained EMTs to move them without risking further injury.
- Report the accident to the police or call 911. Even if the accident is minor, having a police report can be very helpful when dealing with your insurance later on. For more serious wrecks, EMTs, firefighters, and police officers can provide invaluable assistance and help block off the road or free those having trouble getting out of the car.
- Gather detailed information to have on-hand for the police report and the claims agent for your car insurance. This information should include the names of everyone involved, license plate numbers, insurance information, the makes and models of all vehicles involved, contact info for any witnesses, the location where the wreck occurred, and the name and badge number of the police officers who respond.
- Take photos if you can. These in-the-moment photos of the scene will come in incredibly handy when dealing with your car insurance claims agent.
- Call your car insurance company and let them know you need to file a claim.
If you are not one of those directly involved in a wreck, but you did witness a car accident, there are slightly different suggestions to follow. These suggestions are not meant to reflect the letter of the law but only to give a general guideline to follow in the event that a car wreck occurs:
To learn more about your potential responsibilities in the aftermath of a car wreck and what you can expect moving forward, feel free to request your FREE Automobile Accident consultation by clicking the button below.
Automobile Insurance and Filing a Claim
Those who have had to handle the lengthy and sometimes complicated process of contacting their car insurance company after a car wreck occurs know well that “report the accident to your insurance company” is often easier said than done.
If you find yourself having to speak with representatives for the other party’s car insurance company, keep things short and to the point, but stay polite. The claims adjusters working for the at-fault party’s car insurance company are just trying to do their jobs, and often they are not the ones making decisions in the end.
As far as handling the situations with your own car insurance company, we’ve listed the 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Car Insurance Claims on our blog. Quickly broken down, they include:
- DO: Call your agent as soon as physically possible.
- DO: Be honest about the circumstances that caused the wreck.
- DO: Go over the details of your coverage before a car wreck occurs.
- DO: Take photos of the collision as soon as you can.
- DO: Take a look at how replacement coverage and depreciated or cash value coverage differ.
- DON’T: Give any written or recorded statement to your insurer right away.
- DON’T: Accept any estimate from your claims agent without a second opinion.
- DON’T: Sign any release or waiver until you have spoken with a legal representative.
- DON’T: Accept any check labeled “final payment” unless you are truly ready.
- DON’T: Ignore “time limits” listed on your policy.
You can get more details on each of these points by clicking the graphic below. While we hope your experience with your claims agent is a positive one and results in the outcome you’re hoping for, unfortunately that’s not always the case.
If you’re not sure how to value your car when your insurance declares it totaled, you feel like you’re in a fight with your insurance company just to receive the benefits you’ve been paying for, or you’re worried you’ll end up having to take your car insurance company to court, you may begin to feel like you’re in over your head.
That’s where a legal representative can step in to help. They can help you know which documents are essential to have on hand, what to expect if you move forward with litigation against your insurance company, and other ways to fight for your rights after a car wreck occurs.
Just click the button below to request your FREE Automobile Accident consultation with Bluestein Attorneys.
Involved in a Car Wreck in Columbia, SC? Bluestein Attorneys is Here to Help.
Hopefully this information can help you feel more prepared in the event of a car wreck, motorcycle collision, or wreck involving a tractor trailer. At Bluestein Attorneys, we have experience working with individuals on everything from car accidents caused by texting and driving to tractor trailer wrecks and more. Request your FREE consultation and we’d be happy to sit with you and look over your unique situation.
No advice on a collision between vehicles can ever be one-size-fits all. You deserve representation dedicated to working with the best option for you.
To schedule your consultation, just give Bluestein Attorneys a call at (877) 524-4675 or click the button below to contact us online at any time.