Although South Carolina is only 40th in geographic size, its population puts it 19th in population density for the state’s ranking. As one of the smaller states its population is considerable. The state has a well-developed highway system that includes five Interstate highways, and six interstate beltways or loops as well as US State and state highways. Car safety in South Carolina includes dealing with congestion, a high highway fatality rate, and varied weather from earthquakes, tropical cyclones and hurricanes to snowy roads.
Five Physiological Regions
South Carolina is best known for its Atlantic Ocean coastline and its tourist beaches along Myrtle Beach. However, the state has five distinct geographic zones and the largest population center in the state is located in the north-west of the state.
The first two regions are the Atlantic Coastal plain and the barrier islands of South Carolina. The coastal plain is dotted with natural ports like Charleston and Georgetown to major cities like Florence to the many tourist destinations like Myrtle Beach and other resort areas all along the Atlantic coastline. The coastal plain is subject to hurricanes and tropical cyclones; if you are travelling in the area, be sure of the weather and keep aware of any evacuations due to hurricanes.
The barrier islands are mostly just off the coast of the mainland and are generally served by local roads or state highways or only by watercraft. In this area always be wary of the season as many of these islands are low-lying areas and are subject to inundation by storm surges during hurricanes or tropical storms.
Just in from the Coastal Plain is what is known as the Sandhills or midlands of South Carolina. This area is punctuated by massive sand dunes that many believe used to be the coast of the Atlantic when the land was lower or the ocean higher. This middle section is also delineated by the Fall Line; an escarpment that separates the Sandhills from the higher Piedmont region. All rivers are not navigable from the ocean past the fall line.
The Piedmont is a large massive hilly and rugged area that stretches across many states and is an eroded mountain chain. This area is punctuated by rolling hills, some large mountain peaks that still remain and poor soil conditions for farming. The smallest region of the state is the extreme north-west of the state that includes the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina and is the last geographic zone. In the piedmont and the mountainous region, drivers need to be especially careful in the winter of snow, ice and sleet. Especially since they are events that are not common, when they happen they can take you by surprise.
Insurance System of SC
South Carolina is an at fault mandatory insurance state that follows a modified comparative fault structure. In essence you are required by law to have auto insurance in a specific minimum amount and you will need to have Uninsured coverage in the state as well, that cannot be declined. As an at fault state, any accidents are settled privately, with an insurance adjuster or in a civil lawsuit against the party thought to be at fault. This matters in insurance settlements as well as any driver less than 50% at fault is able to collect damage awards.
If you are in an accident it is for this reason that you should never admit to fault until you talk to legal counsel. If you are not careful your “assigned” blame in an insurance claim could be higher because of any admissions you make. With a state with a high fatality rate on highways, be sure to understand your rights and legal obligations when driving on South Carolina roads.
License Suspended Indefinitely
South Carolina is one of the only states to automatically revoke your license on all but your first, low BAC DUI offenses. In 2nd and subsequent offenses or any offense over 0.15% you license is automatically revoked indefinitely. This does not mean forever, but it allows the South Carolina DMV to consider penalties as the criminal proceedings play out in this dual administrative-criminal penalty system. Once your criminal penalties and court appearance is over, only then can you apply for license reinstatement through a DMV hearing.
Many administrative penalties need to be satisfied as well before you are able to reapply and re-take your licensing tests in the state. It is also one of the few states that make you take your knowledge and driving skills road tests again before reinstating your driver’s license. With alcohol and drug evaluation and rehabilitation programs, ignition interlock devices, license suspension times, mandatory jail time, community service and monetary consequences it is not worth it to drink and drive in SC.
Avoid 12 Points
The South Carolina DMV tracks all driver traffic violations and after 12 points your license will be automatically suspended. You only drop points from the program in the state after at least 1 year has passed and only half of the points from the infraction are dropped at that time. You can also take a defensive driving course once every three years to reduce your points by four.
Did You Know That…
1. South Carolina was the first to secede from the US before the US Civil War.
2. Angel Oak tree is over 1500 years old and the oldest “thing” east of the Mississippi River.
3. You can be driving unsupervised at 15 years and 180 days old.
4. It produces more peaches than any state except California.
5. You can drive unsupervised at 16 with a special exception permit.
6. The first US golf game took place in Charleston.
7. With your second DUI you could lose your license indefinitely.
8. There are no professional sports teams in the state.
9. Insurance, including Uninsured coverage is mandatory.
10. With a high rate of fatalities on the state’s highways you need to be extra vigilant on the states many Interstate highways.