CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Portions of interstates and highways running through South Carolina’s largest cities were the state’s most dangerous stretches of road for speeding over the last five years.
Data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) showed that Interstate 85 in Greenville County and Interstate 26 in and around Charleston and Lexington counties saw the highest number of speed-related crashes between 2019 and 2023.
The Greenville County portion of I-85 saw 2,760 speed-related crashes over the last five years, accounting for more than half of all crashes. There were 397 total traffic fatalities in the county during that same time period, according to SCDPS.
As for I-26, state patrols reported 2,629 speed-related crashes (49.8%) in the Charleston County portion and 2,579 speed-related crashes (61.8%) in the Lexington County portion. There were a combined 547 traffic fatalities reported in those counties over the last five years.
There were 4,974 fatalities reported on South Carolina roadways between Jan. 1, 2019 and Aug. 2023, according to SCPDS.
Speed is one of the three most common contributing factors to fatal collisions nationwide. In South Carolina alone, about one-third of all crashes reported between 2019 and 2023 were found to be speed-related.
According to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), there were nearly 43,000 traffic fatalities on U.S. roads in 2021– the largest number of fatalities since 2005.
The report used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to illustrate fatality hot spots around the country.
Since 2017, the average U.S. county has experienced 61 road deaths, according to the report. During that time, Charleston County’s average was six times higher, Greenville’s was 6.5 times higher, and Lexington’s was more than four times higher than the national average.
The report also showed that North Charleston was one of the top 25 big U.S. cities with the highest (worst) fatality rates relative to its population. The fatality rate in North Charleston between 2017 and 2021 was 21.42 per 100,000 people.
Hollywood, S.C. was one of the top 25 small U.S. cities with the highest (worst) fatality rate at 48.70 per 100,000 people, the report showed.
While the report highlights that progress in reducing the nationwide fatality rate has stalled over the past decade, it also outlines the Department’s approach toward reaching zero roadway fatalities.
“Every driver, passenger, and pedestrian should be certain that they’re going to arrive at their destination safely, every time,” the report states. “The status quo is unacceptable, and it is preventable. We know it’s preventable because bold cities in the United States, and countries abroad, have achieved tremendous reductions in roadway deaths.”
Below are the 10 stretches of road in South Carolina with the most speed-related crashes between Jan. 1, 2019 and Aug. 9, 2023.
- Interstate 85 – Greenville County (2,760)
- Interstate 26 – Charleston County (2,629)
- Interstate 26 – Lexington County (2,579)
- U.S. Highway 17 – Horry County (2,516)
- Interstate 85 – Spartanburg County (2,396)
- U.S. Highway 501 – Horry County (2,355)
- Interstate 20 – Richland County (2,188)
- Highway 25 – Greenville County (1,566)
- Interstate 26 – Richland County (1,528)
- U.S. Highway 1 – Richland County (1,481)