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It almost seems hard to believe that a major cause of death in South Carolina is accidents. Not just car accidents, but preventable accidents that occurred in homes, workplaces, and businesses throughout the state.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) tracks statewide mortality statistics. They found that 2,998 people died in 2016 due to a range of vehicle, pedestrian, watercraft, and other types of accidents.
What Are the Most Common Accident Types?
Reviewing the South Carolina accidental death statistics can be overwhelming, to say the least. The raw data covers over 100 categories of fatal injuries. However, there are two that stand out over the rest.
Car Accidents are the Most Common Cause of Death
The DHEC reported that 1,049 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2016. Over the past ten years, the percent of deaths per capita has barely changed. However, the death toll jumped by almost 19% in 2015.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety publishes the Traffic Collision Fact Book every year. The 2015 statistics show a 20.5% increase in fatal collisions between 2014 and 2015. There was an increase of only 18.6% over the previous five years. This shows an alarming trend.
If those numbers aren’t enough to worry drivers, the data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis is just as scary. The increase in U.S. car accident deaths in 2015 was the highest since 1966, the same year that seat belt laws were enacted.
Why Were There So Many Auto Collision Deaths in 2015?
There were many factors that contributed to the traffic fatality toll in 2015. Among the most significant were distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, and failure to wear seat belts. Out of these four leading causes, distracted driving increased by 8.8%, statewide.
The second most common cause of death was failure to wear a seatbelt. Unrestrained passenger deaths increased by 5% the same year. Distracted driving was almost twice that.
All of these deaths had one thing in common: they were all preventable. Negligence and complacency were the most significant common factors for every fatal collision. This brings home the value of taking the time and effort to drive safely. After all, you won’t get where you’re going if you’re dead.
How to Drive Safely and Prevent Auto Collisions
The literature covering safe and responsible driving is everywhere. It can be found online with a simple search. There is a huge number of organizations providing information on driving smart and safely.
Given the prevalence of distracted driving and driving without a seat belt, the two safest things that you can do are pay attention and wear a seatbelt. That’s how simple it can be to prevent yourself from becoming a statistic.
Consumer Reports published a simple article on eight easy steps for driving more safely. They are so simple, there’s really no excuse not to follow them.
Eight Easy Steps for Driving More Safely
- Wear your seatbelt
The sudden, dramatic forces in a car accident can be catastrophic to the human body. Impacting the steering wheel, suffering a blow to the head on the windshield, or being ejected from the vehicle, can all be fatal. Taking five seconds to buckle up can keep you in your seat and away from serious or fatal harm.
- Protect your youngest passengers
Children under the age of 12 should always ride in the back seat. They should always wear their seat belts, and they should be riding in a seat made for their age and size.
- Don’t speed
This is so easy, and so common. By simply taking a deep breath and slowing down on the road, you can avoid potential collisions.
- Pay attention
Distracted driving killed 3,477 people and injured another 391,000 in the U.S. in 2015. These accidents accounted for 10% of all fatal crashes for the year.
- Maintain your car
Keeping track of your vehicle’s condition can keep you alive. Check your tires, your oil, windshield wiper fluid and wipers, batteries, and gas on a regular basis. A blown out tire in high-speed traffic can kill you and a others on a crowded road.
- Don’t drink and drive!
No one should have to be told this, but it’s sadly necessary. Alcohol-impaired drivers cost 10,497 people their lives in 2016. Twenty-three percent of those killed weren’t driving or riding in the offending vehicle.
- Stay alert; stay alive
Don’t stare straight ahead and ignore the areas surrounding your car. Use your mirrors and check your blind spots constantly. Scanning for dangers on the road, including obstacles, pedestrians, and drivers, will keep you safe, alive, and out of trouble.
- Use your turn signals
Making others aware of your intentions should be common courtesy. By law, you should signal for a turn at least 200 feet before reaching it. Not only will this help avoid accidents, but it will also help you avoid a ticket.
As a side note, many times the reason for accidents can be something completely avoidable. For instance, I have been involved in numerous cases where the sun has blinded the driver at-fault. Polarized sunglasses are a great way to avoid these types of accidents.
Another type of avoidable accident, eating while driving. Yes, it is convenient and the ultimate in multitasking but it can also be very dangerous. Everything from burning yourself to spilling will cause automatic instinctual-jerk-type reactions that can affect your driving.
Accidental Poisoning Killed Almost as Many People as Traffic Incidents
Surprisingly, accidental poisoning accounted for almost a third of all South Carolina accidental deaths. A total of 843 people were killed by accidental poisoning and exposure to toxic substances in 2015. That was an increase of 10% over the year before.
The most tragic fact about these deaths is the age group most susceptible to them. Children under the age of 6 accounted for more than one million poison-related injuries in the country in 2015. That was almost half of all such incidents. In the year before, more than 27,000 children under the age of 4 did not survive poisoning in the U.S.
How to Prevent Poison and Noxious Gas Exposure
The Centers for Disease Control published two poison prevention articles which are available on their website. They laid out the following tips to keep your loved ones safe.
Infants and toddlers learn through sensation. Putting things in their mouth is an instinct to increase their learning. Unfortunately, these age groups are the most vulnerable to poisoning.
Keep batteries and buttons out of the reach of small children. Batteries can seem safe at first look. But if they have been swallowed, batteries can break down in the digestive acids of the stomach. The chemicals inside are extremely toxic and can lead to death in a matter of hours or even minutes.
Lock up any hazardous household chemicals, including:
- Liquid or powder drain clog removers
- Automobile chemicals, such as windshield washer fluid, oil, and gasoline
- Garden chemicals and pesticides/insecticides
- Household cleaners
- Paints, paint thinners, and spray paints
Medications should be kept out of arm’s reach of small children. It’s an even better idea to keep them locked up. In addition, children should be given medicines according the directions listed on the packaging. Children can overdose on cough medicine, allergy medications, and other common medications.
Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. Carbon monoxide doesn’t have a taste or odor, nor is it visible. It’s also the first indicator of a potential fire, as it’s the primary byproduct of combustion. For the cost of less than eating out, you can protect your family from fire and smoke inhalation.
Use child locks in your home if you have children under the age of 6. Lock cabinets, doors, and any other closed off spaces that your child might be able to get into. Don’t take your child’s naivety for granted. In many cases, babies and toddlers learn at such a high rate of speed that you may have missed when they learned to climb on furniture and counters.
Prevent Accidents and Don’t Become a Statistic
The number of accident-related deaths in South Carolina and the U.S. is way too high. Especially when you consider that every one of them is preventable. Driving safely is a matter of following simple rules that everyone should know. The same goes for preventing poisoning and exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Losing a loved one, especially a child, can cause immense devastation. It’s one thing to lose an elderly family member to natural causes. It’s another thing entirely when someone is taken suddenly. They are simply gone and too often the causes were preventable.
A North Charleston, South Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
If you’ve lost a loved one or family member to a car accident, or due to the negligence of another, you should immediately discuss your rights and options with an experienced personal injury lawyer in North Charleston SC. At The Hartman Law Firm, LLC, we regularly handle both personal injury and wrongful death claims arising from car accidents and negligence. Please call our office at 843-300-7600 for a free consultation today.