MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A WMBF News investigation has found many of us are driving through stretches of road every day where traffic patterns can be chaotic, tempers flare, and a driver's mind may be on the text coming into his cell phone.
We rode along with Myrtle Beach Police Sgt. John Bertang to get a feel for which intersections are the most dangerous.
The first he took us to was a full two miles from the beach at Seaboard and Highway 501.
"You have a lot of tourists," he told us. "You have a lot of people that are just entering the city. There's also a lot to look at here."
There are also a lot of cars coming at you if, like us, you were in the turn lane, a thin piece of asphalt in the median.
Bertang, a 12-year veteran of the department who leads the traffic division, sees a lot of rear-enders and chain reaction crashes here because drivers aren't paying attention.
We asked if those who cause crashes ever admit to being distracted by a cell phone.
"Oh yeah," Bertang said. "Using the cell phone, texting, eating, putting makeup on - we've had a few admit to reading the paper or a book, as well."
He then showed us what can be confusing, as well as frustrating: Different rules of the road (who has to stop, who doesn't) near Wal-Mart and Home Depot at Seaboard Street and Oak Forest Lane depending on which direction you're going.
Not far away, there's the almost impossible-to-cross Pine Island Road as you try to reach the entrance of Coastal Grand Mall from Oak Forest Lane.
Bertang also took us to what many locals refer to as the "Back Gate," Highway 17 Bypass and Farrow Parkway, outside Market Common. He says there have been several serious collisions here, including fatalities.
"A lot of times at night, people aren't paying attention," he said. "They try to beat the red light and run."
WMBF News also talked with drivers in the area to get their expert opinions since they travel these roads every day.
It's no surprise that Carolina Forest Boulevard and Highway 501, an area outside the city limits, came up as a big complaint.
"I try and stay away from the Carolina Forest intersection if at all possible," said Ed McDowell, who owns a construction company and spends two or three hours on the road daily.
Meanwhile, Carolina Forest resident Mary London is tired of aggressive drivers.
"In and out of traffic," she said. "It's like you're trying to get in front of the next person to get ahead."
Not far from here, around the Tanger Outlets and Chick-Fil-A restaurant along Highway 501, a brother and sister were in a crash the night after Christmas.
John-Paul Brown, 19, and Tina-Marie Brown, 17, died a week later. Tina-Marie had a daughter of her own, and had recently moved back in with her mom and step-dad.
"She just started a new job," said her mother, Marie Saunders Young. "She was very excited to be back with her daughter, and she was looking forward to going back to school."
Young's children are among four people who've already died this year after crashes on Horry County roads. Last year, there were 35 fatalities here.
Bertang says police are cracking down on speeding and tailgating in an effort to make driving safer in the Myrtle Beach area.
But sometimes it is out of an officer's control, especially when someone tries to read the morning paper in the middle of rush hour traffic.
According to the Myrtle Beach and Conway Police, as well as area drivers, the most dangerous intersections are:
- Seaboard & Highway 501
- Carolina Forest Boulevard & Highway 501
- Seaboard & Oak Forest Lane
- Oak Forest Lane & Pine Island Road
- Highway 501 & Highway 17 Bypass
- Highway 17 Bypass & Farrow Parkway (Back Gate)
- South Kings Highway & Ocean Boulevard (Front Gate)
- Robert Grissom Parkway & 21st Avenue North
- Kings Highway & 21st Avenue North
- Highway 501 & Waccamaw Drive (Conway)