Charleston police working to reduce traffic deaths

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston Police Department is cracking down on traffic deaths and trying to keep people safer on the roads.

City of Charleston officials said during a news conference on Tuesday that Charleston has seen more than 120 traffic deaths since 2008.

More than half of those involved someone who was impaired.

So far this year, Charleston police have investigated 14 traffic deaths. In 2017, police handled 17 cases of traffic fatalities in the City of Charleston.

According to Chief Luther Reynolds, the city has seen an increase in traffic deaths every year since 2012.

“The one thing that every one of these collisions has in common is that they’re all preventable,” Reynolds said. “Every single one of these collisions was preventable, every one of these fatalities. So we know that we can do something about it.”

Reynolds said police are already doing something about it.

On Tuesday, he announced 10 new officers were added to help with traffic enforcement and to try to keep the streets safer.

“We know as a profession, as a community, we can all save lives together,” Reynolds said. “That’s what’s really important, and that’s what’s the most important message today.”

But Charleston faces a problem: An overwhelming number of the city’s traffic deaths involve someone who was impaired.

Police have handled 123 traffic deaths in the city since January 2008. Almost 70% of those involved someone under the influence.

That’s more than twice the national average.

“Two-thirds of all deaths are because of some impairment,” Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said. “If that word gets out and people get their head around it, I hope that helps.”

Reynolds also said distracted driving, impairment and speed are the three biggest causes of traffic deaths in Charleston.

He said it’s important to avoid doing anything unsafe while driving your car because traffic deaths have affected so many people here.

“This is important to me. It’s important to this city, and it’s important to the Lowcountry region,” Reynolds said.

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