South Carolina Roadways Considered 'Poor and Failing'

The Greenville News recently reported on the conditions of South Carolina roadways and aptly determined those deteriorating and substandard conditions present  "excessive safety problems."  The reported 41,000 miles of roadways covered by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) were recently graded an "F" by their own highway engineers.

It would appear given the media coverage and the SCDOT's own admissions of the substandard conditions of the roadways the problems are no hidden secret. However, from a legal perspective, anyone using those roadways and injured as a result of their deteriorating conditions must first look over the South Carolina Tort Claims Act, S.C. Code Ann. 15-78-10, before proceeding.

Confusing? Wait, it gets better. Please read SCDOT's Mission taken straight from their website:

Pursuant to SC Code Section 57-3-10, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is charged with the responsibility of the systematic planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of the state highway system and coordinating mass transit services. SCDOT operates and maintains 41,459 miles of roads and bridges, which ranks as the fourth largest state-owned highway system in the nation according to the Federal Highway Administration. The agency emphasizes the importance of safety, environmental stewardship, and system maintenance and preservation through its “Fix It First” strategy. (emphasis added).

The SCDOT provides a brief "Snapshot" of their organization:

• 4th largest state-maintained highway system in the Nation
• 41,459 miles, including 8,344 bridges
• 4,985 permanent employees
• $1.05 billion budget from state & federal sources

The best thing you can do for you and your fellow travelers on South Carolina roadways is to be vigilant about any roadway, shoulder, ditch, bridge, and secondary road issues you notice by mailing a certified letter , or traceable mailer, to the SCDOT. That helps in two ways:

  1. It provides the SCDOT with volunteer assistance without raising taxes; & 
  2. It puts them on notice of dangerous conditions in that area that need to be remedied.

I would be happy to compile those notices if you want to email them or post them as a comment on this article.

Plus in the interest of objectivity in my "reporting", that notice also helps others if they are injured by that same problem clear the hurdles in navigating justice through the South Carolina Tort Claims Act.

Pedestrian and Motorcycle Deaths on the Rise in South Carolina

The injuries from a pedestrian vs. motor vehicle collision and motorcycle vs. motor vehicle collision are never minor. I just settled a pedestrian vs. motor vehicle collision that occurred in the Five Points area of Columbia, South Carolina. The client was lucky to be alive but his injuries were in no way minor and he had to undergo surgery.

As everyone knows in upstate South Carolina, especially throughout Anderson, Abbeville, Belton, Clemson, Easley, Iva,  Oconee, Pickens, Seneca, and Westminster,  rural roads can be the most dangerous. As The Greenville News indicated in their Sunday article entitled, "Highway Deaths Start to Rise":

South Carolina led the nation in the fatality rate on non-interstate, rural roads in 2009 with 4.7 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel, according to numbers released earlier this month by the Washington-based nonprofit TRIP.

The news article was prompted from two separate motor vehicle collisions recently that resulted in five fatalities, the statistics are alarming for South Carolina drivers on rural roads.

I have had dozens of motorcycle collision cases and 99% of motorcycle drivers will tell you that they have to constantly watch out for other drivers in upcoming intersections, stop signs, and lane changes.

As for pedestrians on the rural roadways, you need to take every precaution possible. Since most rural roads dont have sidewalks, make sure you are facing oncoming traffic while walking so that you have time to react as the vehicle approaches. South Carolina Department of Transportation is doing their part with infrastructure and enforcement as indicated with the article "Safety Programs Target Rural Roads in South Carolina" listing these improvements:

  • Adding paved shoulder and safety edge to most rural roadways through roadway resurfacing program to address run off road crashes and shoulder drop-offs;
  • Installing rumble strips on all high speed rural roadways where adequate shoulder is available to address run off road crashes; and
  • Provide funding for overtime speed enforcement by the South Carolina Highway Patrol of high crash rural road corridors.





"Wrecking" Havoc on Interstate 85 in Upstate South Carolina

In the past 24 hours, two people have died as a result of traffic fatalities on I-85 in or around Anderson County:

The South Carolina Department of Transportation provides "real time" traffic cameras for stretches of I-85 in Anderson County.  However, the most dangerous stretch of I-85 starts at the Georgia border to about Exit 19 in South Carolina. Road construction is being performed from Exit 11 to Exit 19 on I-85, as indicated on the SCDOT Traffic Advisory website.

Given the varying construction projects that are ongoing in the area and the myriad number of tractor trailers that pass through this stretch of interstate on any given day, several legal issues could arise:

  • South Carolina Tort Claims Act, as set out by S.C. Code Ann. § 15-78-40, indicates the State, an agency, a political subdivision, and a governmental entity are liable for their torts in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances, subject to the limitations upon liability and damages, and exemptions from liability and damages, contained herein;
  • S.C. Code Ann. § 15-78-40- provides those exceptions to the waiver of immunity; and
  • Negligence - duty, breach, causation, and damages.

These were recent pictures taken of I-85 from Exit 19 to Exit 11. Working in Anderson County, we are familiar with the area, law, and roadway conditions.