Slow Down, Buckle Up - The law will be out in force
So far this year, 7 people have died in crashes on Laurens County roadways; next week law enforcement will "blitz" to keep that family-shattering number as low as possible.
For law enforcement officers, 1 is too many, but they are realists. They know with this many cars on roads that need repair, accidents are bound to happen. Distracted driving, hydroplaning, falling asleep at the wheel and poorly maintained equipment just make matters worse.
To combat traffic fatalists, local law enforcement will join the SC Highway Patrol and the Transportation Police in a March 19-21 "blitz" efforts that will include stepped up enforcement and traffic check points. "Always drive defensively," said the Troop 2 Commander. Captain DW Yongue. "When you come to a 4-way stop, be sure the other guy is actually going to stop."
Yongue said he is seeing more and more vehicle with bald tires and other safety hazards. "I know tires are expenses, but you have to have good equipment," the veteran state trooper said.
Officers will be especially looking for speeding, no seat belt use, and distracted driving as they conduct this 24-7 enforcement. Look for more law enforcement officers on Hwys 76, 221, 25 and 72. Clinton Department of Public Safety Director Robin Morse said the city had a very serious wreck Sunday night at Hwy 76 and Springdale Drive, and on Feb. 28 a woman flipped her vehicle at South Broad and East Centennial streets, clipping a tree in front of Wells Fargo Bank and striking the side steps of First Baptist Church, after allegedly running from a checkpoint on Willard Road.
Morse said along South Board Street, motorists should be especially aware of construction, "and the people doing the construction." Water and sewer lines are being repaired, and there are large steel plates in the road, covering the repair holes. Drivers have taken to swerving around the steel plates, Morse said - even though the plates are safe to drive-over.
Laurens Police Chief Sonny Ledda and Assistant Chief Chrissie Cofield said the department is continuing a grant-funded program of driving information for local citizens. They are looking for a location for a 3rd session, following info sessions at Chik-fil-A Laurens and Zaxby's Clinton. Seat belt and new child restraint guidelines are part of the info pamphlets being distributed at these community sessions, Cofield said.
Yongue said any motorist who sees reckless driving or suspects impaired driving should call 911 or *HP. Motorists are encouraged to make good choices while driving, and give driving their full attention - 100% on driving 100% of the time. Just a quick "look away" can lead to running onto the shoulder, overcorrecting, and crossing the center line. Many wrecks on local roads are single vehicle, one occupant off into a ditch, or striking a tree fatalities, officials say.
Road conditions like Monday's wet highways compound the hazards. Add to that Daylight Saving Time - which went into effect early Sunday - and a person's "body clock" can be affected by fatigue. Ledda said, "When people go from the day shift to the night shift, that can take some getting used to. It takes officers some time to get used to day shift then night shift then back again. Just be extra cautious."
So far for 2018, there have been 7 traffic fatalities - 4 killed in one wreck on US 221 at New Prospect church - compared to 12 people killed by this time in 2017 in Laurens County. Last weekend, 4 people dies on SC highways, none in Laurens County - the 145 people killed so far this year is down from the 193 killed statement by this time in 2017.