SCDOT approves Phase II of Rural Roads Safety Program, targets 'worst of the worst'

SCDOT approves Phase II of Rural Roads Safety Program, targets 'worst of the worst'
Published: Jul. 31, 2018 at 11:08 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2018 at 8:56 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation is targeting some of the deadliest stretches of road as part of its Rural Roads Safety Program.

According to SCDOT, South Carolina maintains the highest fatality rate on roadways in the United States. A safety analysis conducted by the agency found the majority of fatal and serious injury crashes are taking place on U.S. and South Carolina highways.

As a result, a wide array of safety arrangements are being implemented statewide to keep drivers safe. Enhancements such as rumble strips, brighter striping and speed limit signs, larger shoulders, and median guardrails are a few of the improvements SCDOT has in store.

Phase I of the project began in the fall of 2017 and included more than 500 miles of roadway statewide. Phase II, announced on Tuesday, will include 446 additional miles of improvements.

For the Midlands, that means 10 miles of U.S. 601 extending from Lugoff to the north of St. Matthews.

"601 has no room to pull on the side or if there's an emergency so you have to watch your speed," Sandra Gunter, a nearby resident, said.

Officials with SCDOT said 30 percent of the state's fatal and serious injury accidents are happening on just five percent of the state's roads. Those roadways, being targeted in the agency's program.

"Sometimes they're right up on you and you have to throw your signal light on sometimes almost a mile before you get there so they'll slow down, especially when trucks are coming," Isabelle Scruggs, who also lives nearby, said.

A portion of Highway 378 between Columbia and Sumter was a part of phase I on the project that began last fall. In all, 909 miles have been approved for safety enhancements as part of the program.

"Especially highlighting roads where the stripes are so people can see them when you're driving at night would be perfect," Gunter said. "If you're not familiar with 601 it can really be hazardous."

SCDOT said, between 2012 and 2016, South Carolina saw more than 6,800 crashes on rural roads that resulted in a fatality or serious injury. For a full list of roadways included in the Rural Roads Safety Program, click here.

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