LAKE WYLIE--While Memorial Day brings thoughts of warm weather and boating on the lake, it also begins one of the most dangerous seasons of the year on area roads.
Lance Cpl. Jeff Gaskin with South Carolina Highway Patrol said his group is working through its 100 Deadly Days of Summer campaign to reduce traffic problems that are as bad locally as anywhere in the country.
"Enforcement obviously is starting now, and will be heightened," Gaskin said.
Checkpoints for speed, alcohol and licenses will be set up in partnership with local agencies throughout the state. Officers will look for what Gaskin calls the "three main factors" found at most traffic fatality scenes--seatbelt use, speed and, most of all, alcohol.
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"That's going to remain our top priority," he said.
Since 2008, South Carolina ranks second in the nation in DUI cases resulting in death. The state trails only North Carolina. Among the checkpoint areas during the 100 Deadly Days will be locations "in, around and near lake access roads" on Lake Wylie, Gaskin said.
During Memorial Day weekend last year in York County, 27 collisions resulting in one fatality took place, with alcohol related to eight cases. Of the 518 tickets and 269 warnings given, 25 were for DUI.
"That's a lot of DUIs for one weekend," Gaskin said.
Statewide 11 fatalities occurred, with eight of the nine people who had access to seatbelts not wearing them. The remaining two fatalities rode motorcycles. The 100 Deadly Days saw 241 fatalities, with only 49 of a possible 173 people who could wear seatbelts wearing them.
Through May 17, York County fatalities were up by four to 15 against the same time last year. As for the present road resurfacing in Lake Wylie, the main tip for keeping safe is an obvious one, Gaskin said, but it is the most important.
The tip? Slow down and watch carefully.
"Anytime you're driving through areas of road construction you should remain vigilent as far as workers present, and that traffic patterns may change," he said.