Number of crashes climbing on city streets
by The Press and Standard | May 17, 2018 5:00 pm
Last Updated: May 16, 2018 at 1:06 pm
Walterboro police are seeing more and more of their time taken up dealing with traffic accidents.
In 2017, city police officers dealt with 871 traffic crashes; the year before they had to cope with 754 traffic accidents. In the past six years, the number of traffic accidents has been trending upward.
“Since I have been here, I have been monitoring it, watching it go up every year,” Walterboro’s Assistant Police Chief Kevin Martin, a former South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper, said.
He looked deeper into the numbers. What he found was three roadways — Bells Highway, Jefferies Boulevard and Robertson Boulevard — had the bulk of the traffic accidents. “Fifty percent of our accidents happen on those three roads.” Those three major thoroughfares, Martin added, are the city’s busiest.
The S.C. Department of Transportation has a program of measuring traffic to establish the average daily traffic.
AVERAGE DAILY TRAFFIC
• Bells Highway, between I-95 interchange and Robertson Boulevard: 16,700 vehicles a day.
• Jefferies Boulevard, measured near Wichman Street intersection: 15,300 vehicles a day.
• Robertson Boulevard, measured near Colleton Medical Center: 13,400 vehicles a day.
To try and be proactive in tackling the rise number of accidents, Martin said, “We have asked people, if they have time, to work traffic work along those three roads.”
If the officers working road patrol have a quiet period in their shift, they are asked to focus their attention on the high volume streets.
But, he pointed out, with the number of calls for service increasing and the number of accidents they have to contend with, “we are doing a whole lot of reactive (police work) instead of proactive.”
Martin remembers a recent training session where the instructor told the officers they face two questions: Do you want to work harder or smarter? Do they want to take the time to work traffic enforcement or do they want to dedicate more time and effort to handling a traffic accident? When a motorist sees a police officer watching the roadway, Martin said, that motorist “is going to slow down, is going to take fewer chances.”
That traffic stop for erratic driving, Martin said the instructor told them, can generate proactive policing in another way. “Look beyond a traffic ticket,” Martin said, “or you might miss things.”
They might miss signs that suggest that the driver might have some criminal intent. Martin, going back to his state patrol experience, remembers one telltale sign he learned about when stopping a Georgia motorist.
In Georgia, when a police officer issues a traffic ticket, they confiscate the offender’s driver’s license and hold it until the driver shows up in court or pays the ticket. The arresting officer would staple the driver’s license to the traffic ticket, Martin explained. He learned over the years that if he ran his finger over the driver’s license and found pinholes in it, the driver was a regular traffic offender.
“We have asked our people take a little more time on traffic stops.”