Traffic fatalities decrease in Aiken County over past year

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Aiken County is on target to finish 2011 with fewer traffic-related deaths than the year prior.

There were 36 traffic deaths in 2010, including pedestrians, but only 28 people through mid-November, according to numbers from South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Aiken County Coroner’s Office.

The characteristics of these wrecks remain the same, however.

Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton said a typical fatal wreck in his jurisdiction is a single-vehicle collision, which makes it hard to determine what led up to the wreck. But, often, the coroner and investigators determine that speed and drugs and alcohol played a role.

“In a lot of cases, (people) going into a curve run off the road or overcorrect,” Carlton said.

Before barriers were erected on Interstate 20 to prevent cars from crossing the median, about half of the fatalities involved people from out of town, Carlton said, but now a majority of the deaths are local.

It’s hard to tell how often animals such as deer play a role in single-vehicle wrecks unless the animal was struck, Carlton said.

Lance Cpl. Judd Jones of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said a majority of the wrecks in Aiken County take place on secondary roads. He listed many of the same contributing factors as Carlton: speed, alcohol and distracted driving.

Jones said the deceased wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in about 32 percent of 2011’s fatal wrecks.

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