From fender-benders to major catastrophes, car accidents are a fact of life on South Carolina roads. Nearly everyone knows somebody who has been in an accident, and we all know the basic rules for protecting ourselves: drive defensively, put down the cell phone, and always wear a seat belt.
But there are plenty of things that South Carolina residents don't know about car accidents in our state - or the state of our roads and highways. You probably knew that rollover accidents were dangerous - but did you know that half of all car crash deaths occur when a vehicle leaves the roadway?
Here are five more things you probably didn't know about South Carolina car accidents:
1. One in every five fatal crashes in South Carolina involves hitting a tree. That's right: according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), 20 percent of car accident deaths in South Carolina occur when a vehicle hits a tree. This is more than twice the national average for tree-car fatalities; nationwide, only 8 percent of accidents claim lives this way.
2. Ten percent of the state-owned bridges in South Carolina have been declared "structurally deficient." South Carolina owns a total of 8,416 bridges, and 849 have been found "structurally deficient." By "structurally deficient," SCDOT means that the bridges' decks, superstructure, or substructure has been rated "in poor condition." Ten bridges are currently closed.
3. South Carolina set a record in 2013 for fewest traffic deaths...but the car accident death rate is still 50 percent higher than the national average. According to the SCDOT, 2013 saw the lowest recorded death rate since 1982, with 764 car accident deaths. Edgefield County didn't have a single traffic death last year, totaling 445 consecutive days without a fatal crash until early 2014.