Safety director Terecia Wilson told a legislative committee examining highway safety issues that the state’s death rate is 60% higher than the national average, according to Associated Press reports.
"We currently have the third-highest mileage death rate in the nation," she said. "Only Mississippi and Montana have higher death rates than South Carolina, and that's certainly not an enviable position for us to be in."
A series of high-profile fatal accidents this summer has put highway safety in the forefront. The number of traffic deaths per 100 million miles driven in the state declined between 1987, when it was 3.7, and 1997, when it was 2.2, but that number increased to 2.4 last year.
Wilson said the biggest problems are not enough money for highway construction, not enough troopers, poor seat-belt usage and drunken driving. The committee is planning to look at legislation to improve highway safety in the coming session and will issue a report by the end of the year.