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Fatal car crashes on the rise in York County, it’s a holiday weekend. Here are 5 tips

Memorial Day weekend starts what South Carolina troopers annually call the 100 Deadly Days of Summer.

Already in York and Lancaster counties, 2019 has been far deadlier than 2018, even though fatalities are down statewide.

Through May 20, 19 people have been killed on York County roads, compared to 10 in 2018, statistics show. In Lancaster County for the same period, 10 people have died in traffic crashes in 2019, compared to just one in 2018.

Chester County has had two fatalities in 2019 so far, compared to three for the same period in 2018.

Statewide, 344 people have been killed on South Carolina highways through May 20, down from 383 in the same period in 2018, according to S.C. Department of Public Safety statistics.

In Lancaster County through May 20, 10 people have died in traffic crashes so far in 2019, compared to just one in 2018.

Chester County has had two fatalities in 2019 so far, compared to three for the same period in 2018.

Statewide, 344 people have been killed on South Carolina highways through May 20, down from 383 in the same period in 2018, according to S.C. Department of Public Safety statistics.

The year started out with fatalities -- three people were killed on New Year’s Day in York County. In one weekend earlier in May, four people died in separate crashes.

Police do not have a reason that connects the increased deaths, said Lance Cpl. Gary Miller of S.C. Highway Patrol.

Police and driving instructors say they are hoping the rest of 2019 will become safer. Making it a habit to avoid distracted driving is crucial, especially for teens and young drivers, officials say.

“Practice when it comes to safety is crucial,” Miller said. “The time between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day has heavier volume of traffic on the road, and we generally see fatalities go up during that time. Young drivers who practice not being distracted, who don’t use a cellphone and avoid other distractions such as passengers and the radio, will be safer.”

Jeff Vissage, a S.C. Department of Natural resources law enforcement officer, is one of several officers who are driving instructors for 911 Driving School in Fort Mill. Vissage said practice for young drivers with an experienced adult driver in the car is crucial.

“Driving with an adult who is experienced is always better for young drivers,” Vissage said.

5 tips for drivers

Miller and Vissage offered five ways to keep all drivers -- but especially young drivers -- safe this summer.

  • Put down the cellphone.

“No texting while driving, ever,” Vissage said. “Eyes on the road only.”

“Don’t ever text and drive -- period,” Miller said.

  • Do not drink and drive.

“It is obvious, but bears repeating - alcohol and driving can be deadly for anyone on the road,” Vissage said.

“Don’t drink and drive,” Miller said. “That’s the law and it’s about safety.”

  • Plan ahead and be prepared.

“Map out your route ahead of time and concentrate on getting where you are going,” Vissage said.

“Pre-trip planning such as having enough fuel, vehicle maintenance, and having your route in advance is always safer,” Miller said.

  • Be in control, and buckle up

“Don’t let other drivers or anyone else dictate how you drive,” Vissage said. “Don’t let other drivers push you to act. Drive the safe way every time.”

“Heavy volume on the roads in summer means increasing following distance and slowing down to give yourself every chance to avoid a collision or any traffic problem,” Miller said. “And always wear a seat belt.”

  • Do not be distracted (back to those cellphones).

“Eyes on the road - never on a cellphone,” Vissage said.

“We can’t say this enough as summer is now here. Concentrate on the driving and put the phone away,” Miller said.

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