COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Governor's Highway Safety Association recently ranked South Carolina 6th in the nation in pedestrian fatalities.
Recent pedestrian accidents involving vehicles, including a fatal accident on Elmwood Avenue at Main Street, have highlighted this exact problem in the Columbia area.
The problem on Elmwood is because a lot of people are trying to cross a busy six-lane road primarily used as a "spur" exiting one interstate highway to get to another.
This road and intersection have been labeled by the city as "the most dangerous in the city." So far this year in Columbia, 11 people have been hit while crossing the street. Something drastic needs to be done.
There are several factors that are contributing to these accidents and the dangerous conditions:
Traffic coming off I-126 has little time to transition from 60 mph to 35 mph. Often vehicles continue to drive fast as they approach Main Street.
Elmwood is a six lane thoroughfare passing through a heavily congested area near Transitions Homeless Recovery Center. This institution by its very nature cater to people on foot.
People are often seen crossing Elmwood mid-block in dimly lit areas... not in the crosswalks, which is effectively illegal jaywalking.
Poor street lighting created poor visibility for drivers.
The WIS editorial board believes the pedestrian accidents this week should serve as a wake-up call for city officials to do something to ensure driver and pedestrian safety.
Suggestions include erecting a barrier fence in the median to prevent non-intersection pedestrian crossing attempts, something that is already in place along heavily traveled Assembly Street. It appears to be an effective deterrent.
Secondly, signage along Elmwood should be installed warning drivers to slow down. Permanent or semi-permanent radar signs, which reads a vehicle's individual speeds and blast it on a large sign, could help.
And, ticketing drivers for speeding and turning illegally at red lights would also send the appropriate signal.
Drivers in Columbia cross through over 270 intersections and most have controlled crosswalks. However, it appears that many pedestrians take great liberties in crossing busy streets without a lot of regard for their safety. City officials need to take note and drivers and pedestrians need to use common sense.
No destination is that important to take a life. That's my take, what's yours?