Goose Creek, SC Car Accident Fatality Attorneys

Charleston’s Safety Disconnect: Unmasking the Unsettling Reality of Unbuckled Rides

South Carolina has unfortunately earned a reputation for its high traffic fatality rates.  

Research Reveals the Crucial Connection Between Seatbelt Usage and Fatalities

According to South Carolina’s Department of Public Safety, 1,198 fatalities occurred in South Carolina in 2021. Of these fatalities, 379 were due to unrestrained occupants, revealing a net increase of 71 unrestrained occupants from 2017 to 2021. The SCDPS also predicts that this number will continue to increase to 429 in 2024. In fatal car crashes, over 75% of individuals who are ejected from their vehicles tragically succumb to their severe injuries. Also, a mere 1% of passengers with seatbelts were ejected during a collision.

In the U.S., children aged 0 to 4, about 22% of those who tragically lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents, were not properly restrained. In contrast, the unrestrained percentage of adults aged 75 and older is 24%. This stands in stark contrast to the 25 to 34 age group, where a startling 60% of fatalities occur among those who were not properly restrained.

The Underlying Factors Influencing Seatbelt Decisions in Charleston

In one study, it was discovered that in accidents where the left rear passenger was unrestrained, the driver’s risk of fatal injury was approximately twice as high. Most drivers probably do not consider the risk to themselves if their passenger is not wearing a seatbelt. 

There may be several reasons why people choose not to wear a seatbelt, including: 

Complacency and Familiarity

Some individuals may have grown accustomed to local driving conditions or short distances, leading to a sense of complacency. They may feel that a seatbelt is unnecessary for brief trips, underestimating the potential risks.

Misconceptions about Safety

There could be misconceptions about the perceived safety of certain roads or areas in Charleston. People may believe that certain locations have lower accident rates or less traffic, leading them to forego seatbelt usage. Or perhaps they think because they are making a short trip, nothing will happen. 

Inconvenience and Discomfort

Some drivers or passengers may find seatbelts uncomfortable or inconvenient. This discomfort could range from physical discomfort due to the belt’s position to a perception that putting on a seatbelt takes too much time for short trips.

Lack of Awareness

In some cases, individuals may not be fully aware of the potential consequences of not wearing a seatbelt. Lack of education on the importance of seatbelt usage and the potential legal ramifications may contribute to non-compliance.

Personal Beliefs or Resistance to Regulations

Individuals with strong personal beliefs or general resistance to regulations may choose not to wear seatbelts as an act of defiance. Some may perceive it as a personal freedom issue, rejecting what they consider as unnecessary government intervention in their personal life choices.

According to, the top three reasons why people were less likely to wear a seatbelt in 2021 were due to driving in light traffic, driving in a pickup truck, and driving in slow traffic. The SCDPS report also revealed that from 2017 to 2021, unrestrained passengers who faced fatalities occurred mostly at night. The top three counties with unrestrained passengers who faced a nighttime fatality included 71 in Charleston, 64 in Horry, and 60 in Greenville.

South Carolina Seatbelt Laws 

South Carolina’s seatbelt laws aim to enhance safety by mandating that vehicle occupants must use seatbelts. The state enforces a primary seatbelt law, which means that law enforcement can stop and ticket drivers and passengers solely for not wearing seatbelts, even if no other traffic violation is apparent. This primary enforcement mechanism underscores the state’s commitment to seatbelt compliance. 

It is important to note that South Carolina’s seatbelt laws apply to all passenger vehicles, including cars, vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks. If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and not wearing a seatbelt, it is a question of comparative negligence for the jury. If the jury finds that you are more than 51% at fault for causing your injuries, you will be barred from recovering any damages related to your injuries.

Were You Injured in a Charleston Car Accident?

If you or someone close to you was recently seriously injured in a motor vehicle collision, it is important to take a few minutes to understand your rights and the options you have to pursue a claim for compensation against the at-fault party. At the Steinberg Law Firm, our Charleston car accident lawyers have over 95 years of experience helping accident victims and their families recover financial compensation for everything they’ve been through. Over the past ten years alone, we’ve connected our clients with more than $800 million in damages, and we look forward to discussing how we can help you with your case. We have three conveniently located locations in Charleston, Goose Creek, and Summerville, and we offer free consultations to all prospective clients. To learn more, and to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today, give the Steinberg Law Firm a call at 843-720-2800. You can also reach us through our secure online contact form.

Updated on May 10, 2024

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