SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Since midnight on Memorial Day, South Carolina Highway Patrol’s driver safety campaign, 100 Deadly Days of Summer, has been running in full force to combat reckless driving, Trooper Joe Hovis said.
“You can expect to see us, it’s going to be all hands-on deck for us. Don’t be surprised if you pull up on a check point,” Hovis said.
Hovis noted the campaign, which takes place during a time of year when law enforcement see more drivers on the roads, ends on Labor Day at midnight.
He said the campaign goal is to have zero fatal crashes on the roads.
“We’re focusing on seat belts, speed, distracted driving, but, we’re really focusing on DUI,” Hovis said.
Data from the State Highway Patrol found since Thursday, Sept. 3 there had been 637 fatalities on South Carolina roads. Hovis said the preliminary fatality numbers for 2020 are only 30 less than 2019 numbers.
While COVID-19 did slow down traffic on the roads due to some shutdown orders, Hovis added that once some of them were lifted this year’s numbers weren’t any different than years past.
“It looks like it’s pretty much back to normal right now. It might have been a little bit slower when we first had the restrictions, but as the restrictions were lifting, the traffic patterns pretty much got back to normal,” Hovis said.
Drivers heading back home after the three-day-weekend seemed to be split about whether this year has higher traffic volumes and the need for more troopers on the roads.
Jermain Rose and his family were coming back to South Carolina from Georgia and supported the campaign’s push for more law enforcement.
“We do need a governance to make sure that we’re following it. Not just because we’re being told to do something, but it’s for our own safety and everybody else around us,” Rose said.
Whereas, Jessica Hudson and her daughter Annie Hudson, explained that their trip up to the mountains from Atlanta had less traffic than in years past. Jessica Hudson said that there didn’t seem to be more troopers and that wasn’t too big of a problem.
“I think people, a lot of people, who are working remotely left early. I noticed some people up there, that we talked to, have extended their stays because they’re learning virtually anyway. They might as well be doing it in a beautiful place,” Hudson said.
However, fellow Georgia resident, Donald Abderger said he noticed more law enforcement on the roads and it was definitely necessary.
“To have more police officers available because there’s a lot more people drinking, there’s a lot more people not paying attention to what they’re doing. They’re in a hurry,” Abderger said.
Opposing this idea, Kevin Bell said people tend not to be the safest drivers regardless of the holiday. He does agree that a law enforcement presence should be more prevalent at certain hours.
“Maybe at night. Police should be out late at night. But other than that, everything is the same,” Bell said.
Hovis added that those caught driving under the influence will have to pay hefty fines.
If an impaired driver injures someone, they can spend up to 15 years in jail and pay a $15,000 fine.
He added that if that driver kills someone, they can spend up to 25 years in jail and pay a $25,000 fine.
On average each year, there are up to 1,000 deaths on South Carolina roadways. While the number, especially during the summer months, is aimed at zero, Hovis said there’s one way law enforcement can help guarantee everyone’s safety.
“Take people to jail. We feel that when we take someone off the street who’s impaired by drugs and or alcohol. Then we’ve saved a life at least for that day,” Hovis said.