HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Speeding through construction zones and running red lights are common occurrences for drivers traveling on our local roads. Data from South Carolina Highway Patrol proves accidents at the Glenns Bay and US-17 Bypass Intersection aren't slowing down.
WMBF News obtained the data from Highway Patrol between 2013-2015. Sure enough, there was no improvement in the number of crashes last year and the year prior at the Glenns Bay, 17 Bypass Intersection. Each year saw 74 accidents. Since construction is well underway at the intersection, many drivers are worried that number could go up.
"A lot of it is people that don't pay attention, they try to run the red light," said local driver Pete Powell.
In fact, that was the cause of a fatal crash last week, according to police. There were no fatal accidents at the intersection last year and already this year, that one crash took the lives of two people.
Powell sees dangerous driving every day. He drives through the intersection to get to and from home and work, and says no day is different.
"It moves a little better in the morning. Afternoons probably from three til six or seven o'clock, it's pretty congested," said Powell.
That's the time Highway Patrol also recorded the most accidents the past two years, between lunch and rush hour.
With a dozen accidents already this year, local drivers are urging we do one of two things: avoid the intersection or slow down. Each driver is hoping that when construction wraps up and the intersection is improved, it will make a world a difference.
"It will just take some getting used to just like it did at the Backgate, when you had to learn which lanes go where and when to turn and how to turn on them, but I do - I really think its gonna be a big help to the community," said Powell.
For most people, the fact that the US-17 Backgate overpass is up is a relief. But for some, it has been a hardship, like Veteran's Cafe, which neighbors the intersection. Due to a change in traffic patterns, especially on Highway 707, business has slowed.
"Since they put the median strip out there it's probably dropped my business 20 to 25 percent," said owner of Veteran's Cafe Lou Mascherino.
Since the bridge has gone up, Mascherino has noticed overall driver safety has improved. The numbers from Highway Patrol support his claims.
From 2013 to 2014 there was about a 65 percent drop in crashes near the intersection of US-17 bypass at 707 and Farrow Parkway. We're more than two months into this year and Highway Patrol is reporting three total crashes.
"The traffic out there at the intersection is tremendous - it's a lot better than what it was," said Mascherino.
In fact, although the accidents in the past two years have resulted in injuries and property damage, Highway Patrol did not report any fatal crashes.
Mascherino adds post-construction, it's not just a safer for drivers, but a faster commute.
"It used to take 10 minutes to get through that intersection, now it's two or three minutes and you're through," he said.
He's hoping now that traffic is a bit smoother, business will be too.
Myrtle Beach Police confirmed since the construction wrapped up at the backgate, they've noticed the accidents have gone down and the traffic congestion has eased up. Although there have been a dozen accidents at the Glenns Bay intersection already this year, drivers are hoping it will follow in the footsteps of this intersection, the backgate, and see a decline.