Because of COVID-19, people have been staying at home and avoiding travel, but now with more businesses and public spaces opening back up, the state Highway Patrol wants commuters to be careful this Memorial Day weekend.

“Memorial Day kicks off the 100 Deadly Days of Summer,” said S.C. Highway Patrol Master Trooper Brandon Bolt. “We want folks to be safe and we just want them to enjoy their holiday weekend.”

Summer is when many people have vacations and trips planned, and Bolt said it’s the stretch where troopers see the most traffic and driving law violations. On the interstate highways, he said troopers usually see people speeding and following other drivers too closely. At night, cases of driving under the influence tend to spike.

Along state highways, he said the main problem troopers see is distracted driving: People texting, taking phone calls or doing anything but keeping their eyes on the road.

“You should always be properly restrained, never drive while impaired, and you have to limit the number of distractions around you while you’re driving,” he said.

While COVID-19 has reduced the number of drivers on the road, Bolt made it clear the state’s total number of highway fatalities was trending down from last year’s total. As of Friday afternoon, the state Department of Public Safety was reporting 267 fatal crashes this year so far, down 88 from the same time in 2019.

“If you’re following someone on the highway, we use the three-second rule. Follow about three seconds behind them, and add an additional second for every hazard after that,” Bolt said.

Bolt advised people to follow the speed limit and plan their trips accordingly, to avoid any pressure to speed. An increased number of troopers will be keeping eyes on the highways this holiday weekend.

Contact staff writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.