Across South Carolina

Predicted cold spell could last two weeks


COLUMBIA --- Forecasters say South Carolina could be heading into a cold spell unmatched in almost a decade.

The National Weather Service says the chilly weather should filter into the state today, with highs barely getting above 40 degrees and a stiff wind making it even colder.

Record lows aren't the main concern. Instead, forecasters say the duration of the cold weather will make it dangerous.

The weather service says highs in the upper 30s and 40s and lows in the 20s are expected through the next week and could last all the way through the middle of January -- the coldest weather in at least eight years and weather more typical to January in Washington, D.C., or New York City.

Road deaths in 2009 were fewest since '95

COLUMBIA --- South Carolina authorities say 2009 was the safest year on the state's roads in 14 years.

Preliminary reports say 881 people died on the state's roads last year, compared with 921 in 2008.

The last year to have fewer than 900 deaths was 1995, The State newspaper of Columbia reported.

Public Safety Department Director Mark Keel credits the slow economy for reducing the amount people drive along with heightened enforcement.

Mr. Keel says seat belt use is at 81 percent in South Carolina -- an all-time high.

He says citations for not wearing a seat belt and for driving under the influence also increased significantly during 2009.