Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately transposed some fatality numbers.
Highway deaths in South Carolina were on pace to come in under last year’s totals until the numbers spiked in November.
Since November, 40 people have been killed on the roads, bringing this year’s total as of Friday to 827, one more than the total in 2011. Troopers said their concern is that alcohol-related crashes in the state are twice the national average.
Aiken County accounts for 21 of the state’s deaths for the year, according to the Aiken County Coroner’s Office. South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Brent Kelly said alcohol, seatbelt use, speeding and distracted driving, particularly among young drivers, are all factors.
Although seatbelt use has increased, Kelly said it’s still a main factor in the majority of fatal crashes.
In 551 fatal accidents where there was access to seatbelts, 319 of the victims were not buckled in.
“Vulnerable roadway” deaths are also increasing. Those deaths are defined as those involving motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians. Fatalities on mopeds, which also fall under the category, have also risen.
Kelly said troopers will be out in full force over the New Year’s holiday. He asked that drivers make arrangements before finding themselves in a situation where they might be tempted to drive drunk.
“You already know if you plan to drink,” he said. “Go ahead and designate someone to drive.”