In the driver's education program Carr leads at
"What they find out is they cannot control what they're driving while using the phone at the same time," Carr said. "We use that kind of environment to show those two things don't go hand in hand."
Yet despite efforts by educators and numerous local and statewide programs, the number of collisions attributed to distracted driving has continued to rise, according to figures from the
Distracted driving-related crashes in
Those counties reflect a statewide trend, in which distracted driving-related collisions rose from 18,418 in 2010 to 19,822 in 2016. Only 43 of the incidents in 2016 were fatal, the lowest number since 2010, but the number of incidents involving injuries, 8,955, was the highest since 2010.
Nationwide, about 3,000 deaths and 400,000 injuries occur nationwide every year as a result of distracted driving, according to a 2011
"No message, no text message and no phone call is worth a life. You can't hit redial on a life," said Sgt.
Distracted driving crashes are likely even higher than reported, Beres said.
When doing a report, troopers rely on a driver to admit he or she was distracted. But drivers often don't want to let on they were texting or otherwise distracted, Beres said.
"Very seldom does someone cause a collision and come over to a trooper and say, 'I'm sorry, I was texting when it happened,'" Beres said. "Unless they disclose that to us, we're not going to see it."
Nor is the problem limited to teens, Beres said. Drivers of any age with a cellphone can get distracted.
One consequence of the spike in distracted driving crashes is that
The rates are an average of the state's 10 largest insurers, according to the department.
"If you look at it on paper, you just see numbers going up. If you look behind the numbers, you see people. You see people getting hurt and why we're having more accidents," Farmer said.
There were 1,015 fatalities on South Carolina roads last year.
"That's serious," Farmer said. "We've got to pay attention to what we're doing and distracted driving is part of that. ... Distracted driving is a bad behavior which we can correct."
Two educational efforts are focused on doing just that.
So far, 1,433 people have signed the pledge, according to the website.
Crackdowns on aggressive driving take place in various locations across the state at different times, Beres said. Next week a team of troopers will be in the
"Millions of vehicles are on our roadways and traveling through our state. There's no excuse why we can't make the best decision behind the wheel," Beres said.
Carr said while he will continue to ensure students lean safe driving practices at school, driver's education has to continue at home.
"I can't practice nighttime driving during third period. I only have them once a week maybe," Farr said. "I believe in practice and in repetition. If you're not getting that time in the chair, it's hard to react. ... We've made some efforts, but there's still going to be things that happen."
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