A March 19, 2016 article in The State newspaper reveals the toll South Carolina’s deplorable road conditions exact on innocent victims.
The exclusive article notes that the South Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT)—the government agency overseeing road safety—has paid $40 million in settlements since 2010 for accidents caused by defective highways. The vast majority of this money, $37 million, came from the Insurance Reserve Fund, which serves as South Carolina’s insurance policy.
Horrifying Cases From Defective Roads
The article highlights just a few recent cases where victims won settlements as a result of damaged roads:
- In Mullins, a woman’s car went off a road that had no guardrail to protect her from plunging 12 feet into a drainage ditch below. She suffered potentially fatal wounds and missed a year of work.
- Shockingly, four years before that, three people died in a fiery crash on the other side of the same road after flipping over.
- In Jasper County, a man hit a pothole, bursting his tire and hitting a tree.
- A motorcyclist slid in gravel used to fill a hole on the roadside, which then washed into the road.
Potholes Are a Major Culprit…BUT There’s No Cheap Fix
According to the article, pothole–related accidents account for about 70 percent of claims. From 2010 to 2015, drivers filed 6,725 claims from potholes. Stunningly, pothole claims in 2015 increased 83% over 2010 claims.
Why can’t we fix it? As our leaders struggle with that, the answer seems to be because it costs a lot and nobody wants to pay it. The article states 80% of our state’s secondary roads and one third of interstate highways are in fair or poor condition. Worse, almost one in five bridges are structurally unsound or just plain obsolete.
DOT claims binging our roads and bridges into excellent condition will cost $1.2 billion a year for almost 30 years. The state Chamber of Commerce, not known for supporting measures that could raise taxes, urges the State to spend at least $600 million more a year for over 10 years to improve roads and bridges. The governor supports a Senate plan to spend $400 million for just the next year.
We’ll see how it turns out.
Why the State Should Be Responsible
Driving is dangerous enough as it is. We put our lives in others’ hands when we put our car on the roads. There is no good reason why defective roads should add to the danger drivers face every day.
Our state government has created DOT and given it the responsibility—and the duty—to use our tax dollars to keep us safe on the roads. We should be able to trust DOT to maintain our roads and bridges in working condition—or at least give us fair warning when they’re not.
If you’ve been hurt because of a pothole or a road in poor condition, start a live chat right now to see how we can help you get back what the state took from you by not doing its job to keep you safe.