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Alcohol a Factor in 33% of Fatal Crashes on US-76 in South Carolina

A road sign that reads "Welcome to South Carolina" with a blue sky in the background

A car accident lawyer in Lexington, SC discusses the dangers of drunk driving

By now, you've probably heard of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's public safety campaign Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. This highly visible awareness program highlights the dangers of drunk driving, which is something that has been publicized for years. Yet despite decades of warnings about operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, far too many people still get in the driver's seat when they've had too much to drink and put other road users at risk of being severely injured or killed in a car accident.

According to crash data from the NHTSA, more than 10,000 people die in drunk-driving accidents every year. That's one fatality every 52 minutes. Drunk drivers are a problem everywhere in the United States but pose an even bigger risk to themselves and others when they're on certain roadways, such as US-76 in South Carolina, where alcohol was a factor in 33% of the fatal car accidents that occurred on that segment of highway from 2015 to 2019.

During that 5-year period, there were 34 fatal crashes involving alcohol on US-76 in South Carolina, putting the east-west highway in a tie with I-5 in Washington state and I-55 in Illinois for the third-highest percentage of fatal car accidents where alcohol was a factor. The only two highways with a higher percentage of fatal drunk driving crashes were I-71 in Ohio (38%) and SR-91 in California (42%).

The dangers of drunk driving are amplified on US-76

Driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous no matter where you are, but on heavily traveled roadways such as US-76, it's even more negligent. Due to traffic congestion and higher speeds, there's very little room for error when driving on this route, which connects the cities of Anderson, Columbia, Sumter, and Florence.

Specifically, here are some ways alcohol affects your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Poor decision-making

Alcohol can reduce your capability to effectively process information, which means drunk drivers may not give other vehicles enough space when following, recognize and obey traffic control signals, maintain a safe speed, and know when it's safe to change lanes or make a turn. Since drunk drivers have a harder time seeing and understanding traffic signs, they are more prone to driving the wrong way down a road or divided highway, which can lead to a devastating head-on collision.

Slowed reflexes

Drink enough alcohol and it will have a negative impact on your hand-eye coordination. Specifically, drivers under the influence have a harder time tracking moving objects, steering their vehicle, and reacting appropriately to sudden changes in traffic or emergency driving situations.

Decline in vision

Blurry or unfocused vision is common for drunk drivers, which is even more problematic when driving at night or during inclement weather such as rain, fog, and snow.

If you've been hit by a drunk driver, we can help you seek justice

Accident victims have legal recourse under South Carolina law, so if you were injured or a loved one died in a crash with a drunk driver, it's critical that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to get a clear understanding of your legal rights and options.

Depending on the specific details of your case, you may be able to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, your pain and suffering, and any other losses associated with your crash. In some cases involving drunk drivers, victims are also able to pursue punitive damages, which are awarded as a way to punish the at-fault party for particularly egregious acts of negligence (e.g., deciding to drive when you're drunk).

It's also worth noting that your civil claim for damages is separate and distinct from any criminal charges the at-fault driver faces from the state. That means it's still possible to win your case even if the driver who caused your crash is acquitted of criminal charges.

The most important thing to remember is to take action quickly and consult a lawyer before evidence disappears, the memories of eyewitnesses fade, and important legal deadlines expire.

Attorneys Kevin C. Johnson and Steven W. Johnson are brothers who were born and raised in South Carolina and are passionate about holding negligent drivers accountable for their actions. We also work cases on contingency, which means there's no upfront cost to retain our services and you pay no legal fees unless we make a financial recovery in your case. In other words, you pay nothing unless we win. It's that easy.

Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Lexington, SC car accident attorney.

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