Highway patrol aims for safer roads

Billy Cannada Staff Writer

November 12, 2013

PICKENS COUNTY—Local drivers may soon see a difference on the roadways as law enforcement aims to crack down on traffic fatalities.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol is hoping a new initiative will help save lives in the final months of 2013. The agency has launched a “Target Zero” enforcement effort called Operation Fourth Quarter aiming to reduce serious highway and interstate incidents through December.

“The Fourth Quarter of the year is often the toughest for us when it comes to preventing highway deaths,” said Highway Patrol Col. Mike Oliver. “We often come out of summer with encouraging highway safety trends but begin seeing a shift around October and the time change. We are doing all we can to prevent that tragic turn this year.”

The Fourth Quarter enforcement and education effort began Oct. 28 and officials say there will be specialized enforcement efforts geared toward reducing collisions, injuries and deaths throughout November and December.

Highway patrol officials say motorists can expect to see more troopers concentrating on areas that consistently see collisions. This can range from interstates to secondary roadways, authorities say.

Captain Michael Warren said his troopers will concentrate on speeding, impaired drivers, and seatbelt violations during Operation Fourth Quarter. Warren said so far this year, there have been 103 fatalities in Troop Three, which includes Pickens County. The roadways that continue to cause the most concern include Interstate 85, U.S. Highway 25, 29,123, 176 and S.C. 183.

Officials say fatalities dropped both locally nationwide in the first six months of 2013. Authorities say preliminary data indicates that nationwide, traffic fatalities decreased by 4.2 percent while South Carolina traffic fatalities decreased by 13.5 percent during the first six months of 2013 as compared to the first six months of 2012.

Historically, highway patrol officials say, the state has seen fatalities trend upward in the final few months of the year.

The leading traffic violations causing collisions and deaths on the highways are speed, inattention, drunk/impaired driving and failure to buckle.

Authorities say driver safety checkpoints, nighttime safety belt enforcement, and speed/DUI saturations will be conducted during the evening in November. The special enforcement zones will focus on areas that have been problematic in terms of fatalities.

“Fourth Quarter reminds motorists not to become complacent and let down their guard,” said Warren. “We need our motorists acting as team players with our troopers and officers to prevent death on the highways.”