South Carolina’s rural roads have the highest traffic fatality rate in the nation, according to a recent report published by TRIP, a national transportation research group.

The report, Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland, evaluates the safety and condition of the nation’s rural roads and bridges and finds that the nation’s rural transportation system is in need of immediate improvements to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates, and inadequate connectivity and capacity.

The rate of traffic fatalities on South Carolina’s non-Interstate, rural roads is the highest in the nation and is nearly four times higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state – 3.6 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel vs. 0.98.

The report finds that 40 percent of South Carolina’s rural roads are rated in poor or mediocre condition. Nine percent of South Carolina’s rural bridges are rated as poor/structurally deficient.

“Damaged and deteriorating roadways too often result in deadly crashes, and it is time to act,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “AAA Carolinas advocates that making investments in critical safety improvements to rural roads will save thousands of lives each year and help move our economy forward.”

The TRIP report finds that the U.S. needs to implement transportation improvements that will improve rural transportation connectivity, safety and conditions to provide the nation’s small communities and rural areas with safe and efficient access to support quality of life and enhance economic productivity.