South Carolina pedestrian deaths have increased sharply this year. At a recent press conference, S.C. Highway Patrol Capt. Brad Hughes highlighted the 24% increase in pedestrian deaths, from 81 this time last year to 101 so far in 2011. Lexington County and Columbia in particular saw large increases in fatal pedestrian accidents.
So far, South Carolina has responded by placing the burden on pedestrians to be more car-conscious. The state implemented a program called SEE, an acronym for “Stop, Educate and Enforce,” under which officers stop to warn pedestrians in dangerous situations. Pedestrians with their back to traffic, intoxicated, or wearing dark colors are especially vulnerable. While the program has reached 2,900 pedestrians this year, there has been no measurable improvement in pedestrian safety.
This comes as no surprise to our South Carolina accident attorneys; in any car-pedestrian accident, the pedestrian is the vulnerable party and the person likely to suffer serious, even fatal injuries.
At the press conference, officers conceded that more needs to be done to protect pedestrians.
“Motorists, too, can change their driving habits to help address this issue,” Hughes said. He pointed out that driving slower, avoiding distracted driving, and increased alertness would help avoid accidents.
In our opinion, Columbia is placing too much of the responsibility on pedestrians. In response to the increased pedestrian death rates, city law enforcement officials plan to give out more citations to pedestrians. That strategy is likely to do little to reduce the pedestrian fatality and injury figures in our area.