MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The South Carolina Department of Public Safety is increasing it’s enforcement efforts after a busy year of traffic deaths and crashes.

A big reason stems from the pandemic. With more people out on the roads, South Carolina Highway Patrol Master Trooper Brian Lee said troopers have seen an increase in traffic deaths for 2021, something they wish to slow down in time for the holidays.

“We’re obviously trying to get out and let people see us and do what we can to help slow those numbers down,” Lee said.

There have been 987 deadly crashes and 1,064 deaths to date this year in South Carolina, an increase from both 2020 and 2019.

“We’ve had more people out traveling, we’ve had more stuff going on, more parties, more get togethers. and so with that, it’s just increased our numbers this year,” he said.

The leading cause is driving under the influence. Trooper Lee said this year they saw about 22,000 DUI-related crashes.

“We’ve had more DUI-related crashes than anything and so those numbers are up,” Lee said. “And that’s why it’s important for us as we get ready to move in our ‘Sober or Slammer’ campaign.”

And right in time for the holidays too. The ‘Sober or Slammer’ campaign enhances traffic enforcement with more officers and traffic checkpoints on the roads.

“It gives us a chance to hit those roads heavy and that’s kind of what people can expect over the holidays,” Lee said.

In 2020, there were 881 total crashes during the Christmas weekend of Dec. 24 through Dec. 27. Four of those were fatal. 

This year, highway patrol is anticipating more travel, and more people out on the roads which could lead to more collisions.

“And so that’s why we’re [going to] have every possible manpower available with us, with our agencies out on the road, looking for those people who make the wrong choice of drinking and driving,” Lee said.