SCHP, police to target pedestrian deaths in 2012

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Pedestrian deaths have more than doubled in Horry County over the last year, and now the South Carolina Highway Patrol's cracking down to make sure the trend doesn't continue.

Troopers were in Conway Wednesday to meet with local police agencies on the growing trend they're seeing on area roadways.

"We know they're in the roads -- and that's why cars are striking them and causing fatalities," Lance Cpl. Sonny Collins, of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, said.

Eleven of those fatalities have occurred in Horry County in 2011, up from five in 2010. Troopers say they've worked hard this year to educate pedestrians on roadway dangers, but those efforts aren't reflected in the state's fatality rates.

That's why they're looking to local police to help put an extra set of eyes on area roadways. Troopers say the problem will only get better if police stop pedestrians, educate them about walking properly in the road, and enforce penalties on a case-by-case basis.

"If they see a pedestrian out -- stop -- educate that pedestrian on the proper way to walk on the shoulder of the road," Collins explained.

Over the next year, SCHP and local police say they'll be cracking down on pedestrian hot-spots like US-17, Restaurant Row and rural areas -- all places notorious for pedestrian accidents.

Some Grand Strand towns are taking the SCHP's call to action a step higher and installing additional safety features on area roadways to help trim down accidents.

North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Director Jay Fernandez says city officials are looking at improving and re-designing a handful of crosswalks.

"One method that came up is instead of having crosswalks as they are now -- going perpendicular across the street -- maybe angle them 45 degrees towards the traffic," he explained.

It's an idea that could cost the city hundreds to do, and one that's still in its early stages, according to Fernandez.

While North Myrtle Beach eyes up new crosswalks, Myrtle Beach Police say they're going to start targeting Mr. Joe White Avenue and the dangerous street-crossing that goes on in the area. Officers also say they're noticing more people misusing bike lanes, and plan stricter enforcement to cut down on the problem.

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