Highway Patrol warns of distracted driving

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - A ride on Interstate 26 mostmornings point out more problems than the heavy traffic. Troopers with theHighway Patrol say they see their fair share of speeding and distracteddriving.

Trooper Bob Beres has been down this roadbefore, patrolling I-26 for nearly 20 years.

"You know, I really love my job and peoplealways ask me the best and worst part of the job. The best part is coming outdoing a safety talk or telling someone to slow down, knowing that is going tosave their life. And the worst part is ringing the door bell and telling themtheir loved one is not coming home," Beres said.

It's a heart-wrenching act, and it's onethe state Highway Patrol had to do nearly 800 times last year. In a ride-along,it was not hard to see why. Cars were speeding past Beres, other drivers wereon their cellphones.

{}It'sa message this larger than life trooper has said before, and one he vows tokeep repeating no matter who is heeding the advice.

{}Youhave to pay attention more now than you ever have. No life is worth one textmessage or one phone call," he said.

{}Andhe gives his warning as not only a trooper but a parent. {}

"I have a son that started to drive acouple weeks ago," Beres said. "It is important to note the decisions you makebehind the wheel don't only affect you and your passengers but affects theother cars around you."

{}Themessage appears to be heard; the death rate on state's highways were at anall-time low last year. But just one driving death is unacceptable to Beres.

"[There] is not an acceptable answer. Zerofor everyone. We can achieve that - every person out here needs to make theright decision," he said.

Beres said people should still expect theunexpected, too.

With his eyes fixed firmly on the road andhands on the steering wheel, Beres has no plans to stop driving his message ofsafety home.

The Highway Patrol says 57 percent of allaccidents on I-26 in the tri-county region happen between 6 a.m. and noon. Morethan half of those collisions are a result of speeding.

Troopers ask people to call *HP to reportanything on the highways that's unsafe.