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State Trooper simulates crash, says these steps can save lives

As residents travel to their Thanksgiving destinations, the S.C. Highway Patrol is urging drivers to do so safely.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On a cool and quiet fall day, the sound of the S.C. Highway Patrol's (SCHP) rollover crash simulator breaks the silence.

Whipping through the wind, the trooper-controlled silver truck turns at rapid pace.

Inside are two crash test dummies.

"We'll see what happens when neither occupant is restrained inside the vehicle," Lance Cpl. Tyler Tidwell said.

The two test occupants, a toddler and an adult male, flew from the truck windows shortly after the spinning began, hitting the pavement.

It was just a simulation, but the Lance Cpl. says crashes like this are often too real.

"We utilize that to show people the importance of seatbelt usage," Lance Cpl. Tidwell said. "Last year, in the state of South Carolina, we had nearly 1,200 traffic fatalities... about half of the people that had access to seatbelts were not wearing them. So, you just can't help but think, how many people would've still been here with us if would've just had their seatbelt on?"

Credit: Kayland Hagwood
Crash test dummy on pavement after spinning out of crash simulator

Other crashes involve drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he said. It's a particular concern over the holidays, as traffic increases.

"COVID's been in our minds these past couple years and we expect to see an increase in the amount of travelers this holiday season," Lance Cpl. Tidwell said. "In response to that the SCHP will have an increase in the amount of troopers patrolling our roadways."

Slowing down, choosing a sober designated driver, removing distractions like phones, and wearing a seatbelt can help maintain safety.

"We've seen the tragic losses that families have faced and we're just here to try to prevent that," Lance Cpl. Tidwell said.

Although, all deadly crashes aren't easily prevented, the department is hoping these simple steps will make a difference in keeping drivers safe.

"I'll spin it and both of the crash test dummies will have their seatbelts on," Lance Cpl. Tidwell said. "As you can see both occupants inside of the vehicle were properly restrained, and they're safe and sound."

While traveling, Lance Cpl Tyler Tidwell said the S.C. Highway Patrol can assist with certain traffic challenges like flat tires, dead batteries and tow services. Those in need should dial Star HP(47) for assistance.

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