Fatal crashes lead to safety improvements on SC roads

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - After 27 deaths in Horry County over the past seven months, the federal government is reevaluating the safety of the highways in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee.

The federal government says some roads in Horry County aren't safe and may be putting your life in danger.

Now, your tax dollars could keep you from getting in an accident.

Higher than normal cash rates are why a majority of the dangerous roads are getting safety makeovers as part of the "Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program."

Nine roads selected across the state are right here in our area, including the busy East National Cemetery Road in Florence.

Several rural roads off SC 9 in Loris, like Log Cabin Road and Flag Patch Road, are on the list for improvements. As well as Rogers Road in Darlington County.

Liberty Church Road, where 1-year-old Billy Mason Hucks and Cedrick James, Jr. were killed back on May 10, is also up for changes.

WMBF News has learned the improvements range from new pavement and widening to rumble strips, better signage and guardrails.

Community members near SC 9 say the fixes are long overdue.

"In the middle, it's rutted out and it throws you around as you're driving on it. It just needs to be completely redone, and maybe some caution lights at some of these crossways," suggests Roy Roby, driver of SC 9.

The State Department of Transportation wants to hear your thoughts on the road improvements and is accepting comments this month.

Finding the focus of where the improvements should be is where the problem lies.

South Carolina Highway Patrol says a larger number of accidents are happening on major roads, like Hwy 501.

However, it's on the secondary and back roads where the larger number of people are dying, bringing what SCHP says is an interesting change in traffic patterns this year.

Officials say a large number of victims in fatal crashes are actually Grand Strand and Pee Dee residents, not tourists to the area.

These crashes are why SCHP is now repositioning troopers and why drivers are seeing more traffic patrols and counters in local communities.

Lance Corporal Sonny Collins says many of the fatal crashes involve a single car and either a distraction, drinking or seat belt use is to blame.

"When you have [fatal crashes] in many different places and many different scenarios, it makes it hard to pin-point exactly what the problem is," explains Collins.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety is also making a stronger effort to make you aware of your driving habits with billboards, television and radio ads.

This year alone they've spent nearly $74,000 on the effort.

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