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A few safety tips for motorcyclists coming to our state

South Carolina draws millions of visitors annually. Many come to vacation in Myrtle Beach, and several others attend our popular fall and spring motorcycle rallies.

However, unfamiliar roads can pose unexpected dangers for motorcycle riders. Here are some tips to help keep you safe.

Bicycle taxi crash leads to DUI charges

One South Carolina woman has been charged with DUI after she was captured on video colliding with a bicycle taxi after driving strangely in Charleston. The crash was captured by another driver's dashcam on the evening of Oct. 30. After the woman crashed into the bike taxi driver, two other cars chased after her Honda Pilot, boxing her in and holding her there before police arrived on the scene.

According to the video and to information gleaned from a 911 call made by a witness, the 24-year-old woman seemed to attempt to change lanes in order to pass by the bicycle taxi. However, she sped up quickly before braking harshly, nearly hitting the bicycle-drawn compartment. She then tried to pass the car recording the dashcam video, this time hitting the bike before driving away quickly.

NTSB calls for standard roadside drug test for drivers

The National Transportation Safety Board has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to encourage the development of a standardized roadside test that police officers in South Carolina and around the country can use to determine if drivers are impaired by drugs. The NTSB says that the lack of such a test is one of the reasons drug-impaired driving is surging in the United States. Other factors include a deepening opioid crisis and more liberal marijuana laws.

Toxicology tests performed on motorists killed in traffic accidents reveal that the problem of drug impairment on the roads has grown worryingly in recent years. Evidence of drug use was found in only 30 percent of these tests in 2006, but that figure grew to 46 percent in 2015, according to the NTSB. The agency is also calling for comprehensive training programs to be put into place to help police officers better identify drivers who may be under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs.

The rise in large truck traffic deaths

South Carolina motorists who are concerned about road safety should know that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released data that shows the number of 2017 fatalities involving large trucks, or vehicles that have a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds, rose by 9 percent. In comparison, the overall number of road fatalities fell by 1.8 percent during the same time period.

The number of people who died as a result of motor vehicle crashes in 2017 was 37,133, a drop from the 37,806 that was reported for 2016. Meanwhile, those who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in which large trucks were a factor totaled 4,761 in 2017, a number that represents an increase of 392 year-over-year.

Distracted driving on the job may be common

Many people in South Carolina are aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Texting or surfing the internet while behind the wheel can lead to serious and even fatal car accidents. Nonetheless, despite public awareness campaigns and increased law enforcement attention to the problem, it still continues to be a growing threat to roadway safety. One study by Motus indicates that the mobile workforce may also contribute to the distracted driving danger. As smartphone ownership has increased among workers spending time on the road, expectations for their connectivity have grown. In addition, car accident rates have risen at the same time.

As of 2013, 55 percent of mobile workers owned a smartphone, and in 2017, that number grew to 77 percent. During that same five-year period, car accidents increased in number from 5.7 million to 6.4 million, a 12.3 percent increase. According to the study, mobile workers make 49 percent more car trips than other workers, taking to the road more frequently than other Americans do. In addition, mobile phone use while driving is at its highest point in the mid-afternoon, one of the busiest times of the workday for remote workers. The researchers concluded that each mobile worker travels around 1,200 miles each year while distracted by a smartphone.

Morgue visits demonstrate consequences to teens

South Carolina parents and educators may be interested in a program designed to reduce high-risk behaviors commonly associated with teens and other young drivers. Statistics show that teens are more likely than the general population to engage in speeding and alcohol and drug use while operating a vehicle. These unsafe behaviors are part of the reason motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of deaths among teenagers in the United States.

Researchers from Baylor University worked with a hospital, the court system and educators to identify teens targeted for disciplinary action. In lieu of other punishment, teens with drivers' licenses were given the option of participating in a one-day class designed to raise awareness regarding unsafe driving practices and the potential consequences of such behavior. Students in the study were administered a questionnaire prior to the class that was designed to identify high-risk driving behavior. Ninety percent of the class admitted to texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel within 30 days of the class.

Roundabouts could help reduce injury crashes

When people drive in the Myrtle Beach area, they may encounter some dangerous intersections, particularly as they travel into rural areas. Some rural roads have stop signs at their junction points, despite having speed limits of up to 55 mph. When visibility is reduced due to weather or vegetation, car accidents can be even more common at these locations. Because drivers are traveling at a high rate of speed, the effects of these crashes can be serious and damaging.

One solution that has frequently been used to address dangerous intersections has been the installation of traffic lights. These lights are proven to reduce the number of accidents at a particular intersection. However, they may do little to lessen the severity of the car crashes that do occur. This is one reason why many traffic engineers are considering the use of roundabouts or traffic circles. While there is less of a numerical reduction in the number of accidents, the crashes that happen are often less severe and far less likely to involve personal injuries or even fatalities.

Fatigue triples the risk of getting into a car accident

Drowsy drivers in South Carolina may not realize the risks that they are taking. Although most people recognize the dangers of drinking and driving, sleepiness impairs driving in a similar manner. Drowsiness reduces a driver's reaction times and ability to monitor the road. Twenty hours without sleep mimics the intoxication level of a person with a .08 blood alcohol concentration. For this reason, safety advocates say fatigue increases the chances of getting in a wreck by threefold.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drowsy driving causes approximately 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries every year. These figures, however, are dependent on police reports, and responding officers might not know that sleep deprivation impaired a driver. A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association put the number of deaths at about 5,000 for 2015. When the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety looked at the problem, however, its researchers concluded that drowsy drivers were responsible for 109,000 injuries and 6,400 fatalities annually.

What happens when vacationers sustain injuries at an Airbnb?

Many residents of Myrtle Beach and the surrounding areas have discovered the advantages of renting out their properties to vacationers. It has become an excellent way for hosts to make side income while tourists have a simple way to vacation without spending as much money as going to a regular hotel. 

However, as with many other innovations concerning technology, an airtight method has not quite been developed for how people go about settling claims when sustaining injuries at an Airbnb. If you find yourself in such a situation, it is critical to remain calm and follow a few key steps to go about the claims process smoothly. 

Pool safety for homeowners

Homeowners in South Carolina who have swimming pools should be aware of certain safety responsibilities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 7.4 million swimming pools in the United States as well as 5 million hot tubs. The CDC also reports that 3,356 fatalities resulting from accidental non-boating drowning take place in the nation every year. For every child who is younger than 14 years old and dies from drowning, an additional five more children will have to receive some form of emergency medical care for nonfatal submersion.

Installing an alarm and a climb-resistant pool fence can help reduce some of the potential hazards. The two devices can prevent and warn off small children attempting to enter the pool without supervision as well as kids from the neighborhood who may sneak in.

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