Hwy 501 in Horry County sees 5 deadly crashes this year as more pedestrians getting hit statewide

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A map of traffic-related fatalities in 2021, as of August 31, 2021. (Source: SCDPS Traffic Fatalities Dashboard)

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — More pedestrians are being killed on South Carolina streets than in previous years, according to data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

“It is a big problem that we are having, pedestrians in the roadway, pedestrians walking, so we just encourage them that if you are going to be out at nighttime, make sure you wear bright clothes, reflective clothes, so that you can be seen,” said Master Trooper Brian Lee with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

There have been 106 pedestrians killed in the state this year, according to information from SCDPS. That’s the same as what it was at this time last year, when the number of total fatalities jumped to 186 from 2019’s 165. 

This year, there have been 10 pedestrian deaths in Horry County, seven in Florence County, two in Darlington County, two in Marion County, two in Marlboro County and one in Dillon County.

In Horry County, five of those deaths were on U.S. Highway 501. Three were on U.S. Highway 17 Business. 

Lee said the increase might be attributed to more people being outside, population growth or people walking to work because they don’t have a car.

“I think people are just out and about,” he said. “We just have more pedestrians on the roadway, or out more than we used to.”

A lot of people, he said, walk as their main form of transportation. 

“A lot of times people don’t understand that you aren’t supposed to walk in the roadway,” Lee said. “We have a lot of deaths, fatalities that come because they are illegally in the roadway.”

It is against the law to walk on an interstate in South Carolina. Lee said the highway patrol catches a lot of people walking on Interstate 95 in the Florence area. Other times, people will get out of their car and walk to get help if they run out of gas. If that happens, he said, call authorities, who will send an officer out to help.

Another issue, he said, is unintentional hit and runs. Drivers will hit something at night, assume it’s an animal, and then keep driving. Later, they might find out that it was actually a person.

“That puts them in a bad situation where you have a place where somebody hit somebody and left the scene of an accident, and made it worse,” he said.

He points to one crash in Florence when someone hit a person and assumed it was a deer. It took authorities a few days to find out what happened.

If a driver hits something, he recommends pulling over and calling authorities to find out what it was. He said drivers who don’t feel safe can stay in their cars.

The SCHP reaches out to organizations, groups, and driver’s education classes to stress pedestrian safety. Lee recommends for pedestrians to stay on sidewalks and to walk facing traffic so they can see if a vehicle loses control. Runners should wear reflective gear or a light at night.

Use the database below to search for the total number of annual traffic fatalities in South Carolina counties.

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