While any accident has the potential to result in catastrophic consequences, wrecks that occur on interstates are more likely to be fatal. A number of factors contribute to the fatalities, including high speeds, traffic congestion, and tractor-trailers. If you’ve been involved in an interstate crash in Columbia, it’s possible it occurred on I-26. At Solomon Law Group, our Columbia Interstate 26 accident lawyers are here to represent crash victims and help them secure their futures.
Interstate 26’s History of Fatal Accidents
Interstate 26 is the longest interstate highway in South Carolina. It runs for 220 miles east to west and is a predominately a four-lane rural interstate, with most signs indicating a 70-mile-per-hour speed limit. In Columbia, however, the interstate widens to six lanes. Major injunctions with I-20 and I-126 also happen in Columbia.
From 2000 to 2010, federal and state records show that 325 people died in 286 wrecks on I-26 in South Carolina. Many of the fatal car accidents involved single vehicles crashing into trees or rolling into ditches. This is attributed to the roadway having few guardrails and steep roadside ditches.
In regard to more recent statistics, according to the South Carolina Traffic Collision Fact Book, there were 96 fatal collisions on interstates in 2017, resulting in 104 deaths. 20 of those crashes and 21 of the fatalities happened on Interstate 26. The majority of the accidents occurred on Thursdays in the months of June and August and resulted from driver inattention and recklessness.
Accidents have also resulted from having all lanes converted to westbound only. This happened in 2016, 2018, and 2019 as a result of Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Florence, and Hurricane Dorian. The crashes were often the result of traffic being much more congested and negligent drivers failing to take necessary precautions.
The Dangers of Highway Travel
While a car accident can happen anywhere, it’s important for drivers to be aware of the unique dangers different roadways present. If you’re traveling on Interstate 26 or any other highway, keep the following hazards in mind:
- High Speeds. The average interstate speed ranges between 55 and 70 mph. If, for example, you’re traveling 65 mph, your vehicle is moving 95 feet per second. When you think about the number of reckless drivers who go significantly faster than the posted limit, it’s easy to see why so many accidents result from drivers losing control or being unable to stop because of how fast they were traveling.
- Congestion. When the lanes shift from four to six in Columbia, traffic picks up as well. During rush hour times, accidents are more likely to happen simply because of the increase in vehicles. Traffic jams also contribute to road rage, which can result in poor driving decisions.
- Tractor-Trailers. When a commercial truck is involved in a crash on an interstate, the likelihood of multiple vehicles being involved or fatalities occurring is significantly higher than when a wreck happens between two passenger vehicles.
- Construction Zones. It’s not uncommon, especially in the summer months, to see construction workers or road crews on the side of the highways. Our interstates are under a constant state of repair, so as to keep the roadways as maintained as possible. When drivers speed through construction zones or fail to follow traffic signs, crashes happen.
- Tailgating. Tailgating is a major problem on interstates. It’s often the result of reckless driving. If a person is being tailgated and needs to make an emergency stop, it’s likely a rear-end accident will result.
Preventing Interstate Crashes in Columbia
South Carolina’s State Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) is a comprehensive plan that’s been developed to help eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries across the state. SHSP was established in consultation with federal, state, local, and private-sector safety stakeholders. The strategy they’ve developed focuses on the four “E”s of safety: engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency medical services.
The SHSP identified five major factors to evaluate: 1) serious crash types, 2) high-risk drivers, 3) special vehicles, 4) vulnerable roadway users, and 5) management information and exchange. With a focus on those issues contributing to the number of traffic accident-related causalities and fatalities, the state implemented a number of strategies in an attempt to save lives. Those strategies utilize local schools and community organizations. South Carolina’s safety campaigns include Sober or Slammer, Ride Smart, Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over, and Buckle Up South Carolina.
You can aid in the prevention of fatal accidents, as well. Take the following tips into consideration every time you get behind the wheel and drive on the interstate:
- Keep your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and mind on your surroundings.
- Scan the area in front of you at least 10 seconds ahead of time.
- Avoid tailgating.
- Follow the posted speed limits.
- Slow down in construction zones.
- Refrain from talking on the phone or texting.
- Never drive fatigued.
- Merge and pass carefully.
- Avoid weaving in and out of traffic.
- Always leave significant distance between you and the car in front, in case of an emergency stop.
Even when you drive responsibly, there’s the chance another negligent driver could cause an accident. If you’re involved in one, our attorneys are prepared to represent you.
Seek Recovery in South Carolina Today
If you’ve been injured on Interstate 26, seeking legal representation is the best way to ensure you receive the compensation you need for your accident injuries. Our Columbia interstate 26 accident lawyers are dedicated to helping crash victims reclaim what they’ve lost and move confidently into the future. For more information on your legal rights and options after an interstate accident, contact us today.