Highway 61 may be scenic, but its beauty is sadly compromised by its danger. According to data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, over the past 10 years, 52 people have lost their lives in car accidents on the approximately 65-mile-long road, which travels from Bamberg County to Charleston’s West Ashley district. Last year, there were five people killed. The deadliest year during the last decade was 2011, when seven people died. Charleston County leads the way in deaths.
Here is the breakdown of fatalities by county for the entire 10-year period:
- Charleston: 18
- Dorchester: 17
- Colleton: 15
- Bamberg: 2
Why Are There So Many Deadly Car Accidents on Highway 61?
One SCDOT official said the No. 1 cause of serious injuries and deaths on the roadway is people driving off the highway and striking trees and other fixed objects. There is a lack of shoulders on the highway, which allows little room for drivers to correct if they make driving errors. Possibly contributing to the dangers for drivers are the greatly increased amount of traffic on the highway in recent years and the darkness of the highway at night.
Plans are in the works to add a four-foot-wide shoulder with rumble strips to major portions of the highway, especially in the most deadly areas. SCDOT has completed surveying work from the Givhans state park area to the Charleston/Dorchester County line. There were delays to the project caused by a refocusing of work effort when Hurricane Florence slammed into the state last year. More improvement work is planned.
SCDOT says that hearings are also planned for the spring to get public input about the safety improvement project. If you are interested in attending a hearing, check the SCDOT website’s programs and projects pages for updated scheduling information.
Safe Driving Tips
Drivers can reduce their chances of being in a car wreck on Highway 61 and any other roadway by always practicing safe driving. Here are some basic tips for helping keep yourself and others safe on the road:
- Adhere to posted speed limits. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going so you don’t feel pressured to speed or otherwise drive aggressively.
- Be sure your headlights are in good working order for traveling dark roads at night.
- Avoid distractions while driving. Keep your cell phone in your purse, in the back seat, or in another area where it isn’t easily accessible and you aren’t tempted to reach for it. Texting and use of other electronics behind the wheel are the No. 1 cause of distracted driving accidents.
- Don’t drink and drive. If you have had too much to drink, arrange an alternate form of transportation or stay where you are for the night, if possible.
- Pay attention to other vehicles on the roadway. If someone is swerving or showing other signs that they might be driving under the influence, distance yourself from the vehicle and then call 911 to report it.
Let Columbia’s Louthian Law Firm Help
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact our experienced injury attorneys. If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, it’s important to act quickly. The statute of limitations in personal injury claims is three years, unless the negligent driver was driving a city, county or state vehicle, in which case the statute of limitation is two years. However, it’s always best to begin the process as soon as possible to ensure you have time to build a solid case and receive compensation in a timely manner. Call us at 803-454-1200 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.