Politics & Government

SC rural roads deadliest in the nation

Improvements to a 13-mile stretch of Garners Ferry Road in Richland County are slated as part of a $50 million initial investment from higher gas-tax revenues aimed at reducing S.C. highway deaths.
Improvements to a 13-mile stretch of Garners Ferry Road in Richland County are slated as part of a $50 million initial investment from higher gas-tax revenues aimed at reducing S.C. highway deaths. The State file photo

South Carolina has the highest rate of deaths on rural roads in the nation.

The Palmetto State had 3.82 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled on those non-interstate, rural routes in 2015, according to a report released Tuesday by national transportation research group TRIP.

The report said that deaths on rural roads are caused in part by “a lack of desirable roadway safety features, longer emergency vehicle response times, and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads compared to urban roads.”

S.C. lawmakers approved raising the state’s gas tax and other driving fees this year to raise about $600 million a year to pay for road repairs, once the tax hike is fully phased in.

Earlier this month, the S.C. Department of Transportation commission approved spending an initial $50 million to make the state’s deadly rural roads safer.

Popular Midlands route Garners Ferry Road is the top target for those safety upgrades.

Nine fatal crashes occurred on that stretch of Garners Ferry from 2011-2015, according to the Transportation Department. Another 23 crashes in the same time frame resulted in serious injury.

Cassie Cope: 803-771-8657, @cassielcope

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