According to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) when it comes to drunk driving, South Carolina has a lot of room for improvement. The data they collected with the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that the state has one of the highest numbers of DUI accidents resulting in fatalities than any other state in the country, and that it’s getting worse.
The data collected showed that in 2013, South Carolina had 335 deaths as a result of DUIs. This was a lower number than experienced in 2012, but it was high enough to put the state well above the national average of state traffic deaths caused by DUIs. The national average is approximately 31%, while South Carolina’s state average is 44%.
Steven Burritt, the program director of South Carolina’s M.A.D.D. program wants to see the number change and he feels state lawmakers aren’t working hard enough to instigate change. “Improvements aren’t being made fast enough, and it’s a shame that we lead the nation in such devastating circumstances. It forces us to ask ourselves as a state once again whether we’re doing everything we know we should to drive these numbers down. We know the answer is that we’re not.”
For several years, M.A.D.D. has been focusing large portion of its resources on the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, a campaign that outlines many ideas about how the number of DUI instances can decrease. The program supports ideas such as sobriety checkpoints, ignition interlock devices, and technological improvements such as Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety.
While lawmakers might not be moving as fast as M.A.D.D. would like, they are making an effort to change the DUI statistics for the better. Following the passing of “Emma’s Law” all first time offenders who were arrested with blood alcohol content that exceeds .12 will have ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicle. M.A.D.D. admits that it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough.
Burritt said more needs to be done in South Carolina. “We look at the issue of ignition interlock devices, which we had a nice step forward with, with Emma’s Law and we were very proud and that was a major achievement. Yet compared to what some other states have done we really only went part of the way,” Burritt said in an interview tih the South Carolina Radio Network. “Emma’s Law is going to help with these numbers going forward, for sure. But we did not go as far as 24 states have done to require these devices for every DUI offender, so we can’t expect the kind of massive drops those states had. Also, Emma’s Law can only meet expectations if those who should be convicted of drunk driving actually are. We know this isn’t happening.”
South Carolina personal injury lawyer at Joe and Martin, Joseph Sandefur, applauds M.A.D.D.’s efforts. “I hope lawmaker pay close attention to the suggestions M.A.D.D. has made. The two main reasons I opted to pursue a career in personal injury law was because I wanted to help people and encourage the legal system to work to improve safety conditions for everyone the roads.”