Impaired Drivers in South Carolina Cause Highway Injuries and Deaths
On behalf of Patrick Knie at Knie & Shealy Law Offices
TV Station WHNS in Greenville recently reported that a head-on collision in Cherokee County claimed the lives of two people after being struck head-on by a vehicle operated by an intoxicated teenage driver. Two other people were sent to the hospital with serious personal injuries. The impaired teen was reported to have stated that he wished he had not gotten behind the wheel. Unfortunately, however, he did.
Too many car accidents in South Carolina and nationally are the result of impaired driving. The authors of the South Carolina Highway Safety and Performance Plan observe that there is an "ever-growing impaired driving problem in the state." DUI continues to be the number one contributing factor in fatal crashes in South Carolina. Young drivers are at the center of the impaired driving problem.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately one million teens drank alcohol and got behind the wheel in 2011. Teenager drivers are three times more likely than experienced drivers to be involved in a fatal crash and alcohol increases this risk. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety adds that the combination of drinking and driving is made worse by a young driver's relative inexperience both with drinking and with driving.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation concludes that young South Carolinians are disproportionately represented in accidents involving impaired driving. Car crashes involving DUI are the number one killer of South Carolinians ages 15 to 24. Drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 are involved in well over 1,000 crashes annually in which DUI was a contributing factor. In 2010, young South Carolina drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 were involved in 25 percent of all alcohol and/or drug related crashes. This statistic is characterized as "staggering," given that only drivers 21 and older are of legal drinking age in South Carolina.Parental Guidance
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concludes that the key to reducing alcohol-impaired driving is deterrence. Studies have shown that people are less likely to drink and drive if they believe they will get caught. One major component of South Carolina's "Sober or Slammer" campaign is geared toward getting impaired drivers off our roads by aggressive law enforcements efforts such as publicizing DUI crackdowns and setting up numerous public safety checkpoints.
The American Automobile Association suggests that the parents of teenager drivers can help in the fight to reduce highway accidents by taking the following steps:
- Discuss drinking with teens and educate them on the risks of drinking and driving.
- Establish rules, and consequences, if their teenager gets behind the wheel while impaired.
- Do not facilitate teen drinking by agreeing to host parties where drinking by teens is tolerated.
- Do not condone fake IDs.
- Do not be preachy when discussing drinking with your children-just be caring and factual.
- If you drink, do so responsibly so that you lead by example.
Impaired drivers, regardless of their age, present a risk of injury and death to other motorists and their passengers. South Carolina law provides those injured by the negligence of motorists a right to seek compensation for any injuries sustained. If you have been injured as the result of an impaired driver, or if a loved one has been injured or killed due to an impaired driver, you should contact an attorney. An attorney experienced in handling motor vehicle accident cases can discuss the matter with you and provide you with advice as to how to go about seeking compensation.