Showing posts with label highway safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label highway safety. Show all posts

8th Circuit Solicitor's office DUI friendly?

If you're a drunk driver, you may find the counties of the Eight Judicial Circuit - Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens and Newberry Counties - a friendlier place to drive than other Upstate counties thanks to incumbent Solicitor Jerry Peace.

A brewing issue in the ongoing Republican primary battle between Peace and challenger David Stumbo is over the low DUI conviction rate in the Circuit. Last fall, WSPA TV News 7 in the Upstate reported that in a four-month period last summer, over eighty percent of DUI cases in Greenwood and Abbeville Counties were dismissed, with Greenwood County's conviction rate was 18% and Abbeville’s rate at 22%.

While Peace says this was because defendants offered to plead guilty to a lesser charge like reckless driving, but when compared to other Upstate counties for the same time period, this conviction rate came in well behind the following counties:

2010 National Work Zone Awareness Week: April 19-23

National Work Zone Awareness Week is coming up later this month. As someone whose job involves protecting those working in work zones, you'll be doing me a favor by taking a few minutes to exercise a little more caution while traveling through work zones.

Here's some easy ways to help: allow a few extra minutes for travel, increase your following distance behind the car in front of you, watch out for construction vehicles suddenly slowing or stopping in front of you, and keep an eye out for lanes that close or traffic patterns that change.

It's not just for their benefit either. Studies show that the large majority of those killed or seriously injured in work zone collisions are motorists, not construction workers.

We Can't Drive 55

When Sammy Hagar told us he couldn't drive 55, he wasn't the only one. This story in the Wall Street Journal looked at how the long-time 55 m.p.h. speed limit is becoming something American's won't do.

A study of TomTom users in 46 states showed average freeway speeds in 31 of those states exceeded 65. This data was collected on a voluntary and anonymous basis, with drivers on D.C.'s 10 or so miles of freeway going the slowest (46.4) and those in Mississippi going the fastest (70.1).

South Carolina also made the top ten, a category in which average per-state freeway speeds ranged from 68.5 to 70.1.

We have to wonder if Rep. Anne Hutto participated in this study.

Highway work zone safety

As my company's I-26 project continues, so do the hazards to which our employees are being exposed. Those who read Saturday's edition of the Charleston Post and Courier might have read the latest front page story about the ongoing problem which included yours truly:

Construction workers are being injured, and authorities are turning to the public, once again, and asking them to think about what they are doing when they travel through the work area.

If Earl Capps could write the manual for driving in a highway construction zone, it would all come down to three words.

"Be considerate, thoughtful and cautious," he said.

That simple advice works with the vast majority of drivers who are responsible and make efforts to be cautious when traveling through construction work zones. However, there are those drivers who just don't get it. Those drivers who don't want to drive safely and obey the posted speed limits get to meet the troopers who've been assigned to patrol the work zone. Those troopers work long hours and in some dangerous conditions. Having watched these troopers work on a lot of nights, I can't say enough about them.

But since the problem doesn't seem to go away, it's obvious that more help is needed - but in the current budget situation, more help won't be coming.

However there are legislators who have offered to help find ways to fund more troopers for work zones around the state without putting the cost on taxpayers. Expect more discussion on this subject in the upcoming months ...

Slow down on I-26

This excellent story which aired on Channel 4 news Tuesday night about my employer's I-26 project talks about the safety concerns:

Some recent data:
  • Four company vehicles have been rear-ended in the work zone since work began in August. Three with employees in them at the time.
  • A random sampling of traffic citations shows motorists cited when the work zone speed limit is reduced to 45 m.p.h. for night work showed an average speed of 74 m.p.h.
  • Since January, there have been seven critical loss-of-control incidents where motorists were going so fast they either hit concrete barrier wall or ran off the road entirely
  • In a recent two week period, the Highway Patrol issued over 300 tickets during night work.
The state troopers are limited in their ability to help us due to short staffing and funding. Requirements that all ticket monies go to the state's general fund were well-intentioned, aimed at preventing the classic "speed trap towns", but those towns found a loophole to allow them to keep ticket money. If this law was changed, then fines collected from dangerous drivers could pay for extra trooper coverage, instead of expecting taxpayers to pick up the tab.

Until then, our employees will continue to dodge cars and objects being thrown at them with little help. At least until someone gets killed.

Interstate 26 construction to begin in North Charleston

Traveling through the Charleston area anytime in the next two to three years? Watch for a show as the Interstate 26 widening and reconstruction kicks off:

Get ready for a lot of orange barrels, concrete barriers and lane shifts on your interstate commute for the next three years.

Widening Interstate 26 to eight lanes from the Mark Clark Expressway to Ashley Phosphate Road in North Charleston is about to start.

The widening "will be the most radical transformation of an interstate in the Lowcountry that anyone has ever seen," said Earl Capps of the U.S. Group Inc., which won the construction contract for the $66 million project.

The 2.9-mile project will include nearly a complete makeover of both the Aviation Avenue and Remount Road interchanges with new on- and off-ramps and collector lanes beneath the bridges.

- Charleston Post and Courier (July 13, 2008)

If you're traveling through this area, there are some things you'll need to keep in mind:
  • Lane closures will only take place at night,
  • 45 m.p.h. work zone speed limits with lots of cops,
  • Periodic lane shifts can be expected throughout the project on I26, along with Aviation and Remount Roads.
If you'd like to know more about the project, you'll want to check out - a website about the projefct which is run by yours truly.

Watch out for farm tractors

One of the most important things to the Blogland is safety. We're grateful for our readers and want you to keep coming back every day, safe and sound.

This time of year, especially in rural areas, there's a lot of farm equipment on the road, and we join Hugh Weathers, our Commissioner of Agriculture, in urging you to be careful out there:

Hugh E. Weathers, South Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture, urges drivers to use caution when driving near tractors and other large farm equipment on the highways around the state.

Each spring and summer there is an increase of tractors and other large farm machines that travel South Carolina’s back roads as farmers work their fields. Every year there are collisions involving farm equipment and vehicles across the state and the Department of Agriculture encourages everyone to drive with care as they approach any farm machine on the road.

“Tractors and combines on the roads are a part of South Carolina,” Weathers said. “I urge all drivers to slow down, be patient behind large tractors that may be driving slowly, and pass with care.”

Going to Rock Hill?

If you're going to Rock Hill or York from Columbia, you probably use State Route 901 after exiting from Interstate 77. If so, look for U.S. Group to begin work on it's first York County project: the widening of 901 from Interstate 77 to Heckle Boulevard.

This project, funded by York County's Pennies for Progress program, will complete a long-overdue full four-lane southern bypass around Rock Hill, allowing travelers heading to York and points west of Rock Hill without having to fight city traffic or two-lane roads.

If you'd like to keep up with this project's progress ... yep, I'm running the project website at

Driving through the Midlands?

For those of you who travel through the Midlands, there will soon be two new road construction projects you should keep an eye out for. My company, U.S. Group, will be starting work on two new road construction projects in Lexington County:

Piney Grove Road widening and bridge replacement:
This project will replace the bridge over Kinley Creek, rechannel the creek to reduce potential erosion of the roadway, and add a center turn lane for two blocks both north and south of the creek.

U.S. Route 321 at U.S. Route 21/176 intersection realignment:
This project will replace the fork and yield intersection with a standard "T" intersection, complete with a traffic light. U.S. 321 will remain the through-route, while U.S. 21/176 travelers will have to stop and then turn right or left to get onto U.S. 321.

While daytime work that interferes with traffic is usually very restricted by SCDOT contract requirements, we do ask you to slow down exercise extra caution through these work zones. Both projects will likely require lane shift and temporary realignments to facilitate work, which will slow traffic while motorists get used to them. Watch out for those motorists, as well as our workers and construction vehicles.

If you have any questions about either project, please let me know. I'll be glad to help.

As an added bonus, I put the Piney Grove Road project online with a traffic information website, which you can find at

National Work Zone Safety Week - April 2-6

It's that time of the year again ... yep, National Work Zone Safety Week is next week (April 2-6).

On this blog, that's an important week.

As someone who works for a highway construction general contractor, I'd like to ask all of you to put safety first at all times when driving, but to pay extra attention in those work zones.

While my company has been fortunate to have had zero injuries or fatalities due to work zone incidents, U.S. Group is the exception to the rule in that regard. Having had a couple of near misses myself while on job sites, I know just how risky it is.

Keep in mind that when workers can work safer and therefore with more confidence, they work faster. That means they can open those roads up sooner. So, please help us help you.

There's even a Work Zone Safety coloring book you can download for hours of coloring fun. West and Mike ought to enjoy that.

It is Colder Dan ...

Outside ... it is colder 'dan sh .... well, you get the point.

If you think it's cold outside, try spending the entire night out in this weather. For the company quarterly newsletter, which I am responsible for, I spent part of Sunday night down on US 21, just south of Beaufort, on St. Helena Island, taking pictures of the night work we've got going on. They'll be out there for five nights a week for the next three weeks - talk about tough and hardcore.

The temperature when I got there at 6.30 pm was a moderate 56, by the time I write this, at midnight, as I thaw out for the ride home to Summerville, it was already down in the mid-40s, and headed for the mid-20s before sunrise.

For the newletter, I took some pictures and got to do some non-corporate communication stuff by helping with traffic control, moving barrels and waving the Stop/Slow paddle for a few minutes. We had one lane closed, so traffic was taking turns on the one lane that was left open.

For those of ya'll traveling through work zones, please be sure to SLOW THE HELL DOWN!!! There were plenty of people who didn't do that tonight, and thus far, nobody's been hurt - yet.

Here are some sobering statistics about work zone dangers:

  • Over the last five years, the number of persons killed in motor vehicle crashes in work zones has risen from 872 in 1999 to 1,028 in 2003 (an average of 1,020 fatalities a year).
  • Eighty-five percent of those killed in a work zone are drivers or occupants.
  • More than 40,000 people are injured each year as a result of motor vehicle crashes in work zones.
  • Approximately half of all fatal work zone crashes occurred during the day.
  • More than two times as many fatal work zone crashes occurred on weekdays as on weekends.
Sources: Federal Highway Administration - Fatal crashes and fatalities - Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) & Injuries - General Estimates System (GES)
We're just trying to do our jobs, so please slow down and watch out. That lets us get our work done a little sooner so we can get out of your way a little faster.

S.C. Work Zones: 16 THOUSAND tickets in three months

The other day, I'm told my company's VP came from a meeting where he learned that sixteen thousand tickets had been written in South Carolina highway work zones over the last three months.

Yes, I said SIXTEEN THOUSAND tickets.

From that discussion, I was directed to put together this poster to circulate to our employees, as well as others in the construction arena, to help educate their workers and engage them in spreading the word about the need to slow down in work zone:

Slowing down might be a good idea ... for you, for other motorists, and for those working. I may be the office brainy-geeky HR and corporate communication person, but I've been out there on the side of the road and have my own personal close call stories.

Even worse, I've stood just feet away from a tarp that covered someone who was just moments before, a living, breathing human being - someone who was a friend, co-worker, father, and husband. It's something you'll never forget.

What can you, as a motorist, do to help? Here are three things easy things that you can do in a work zone:

  1. Slow down,
  2. Watch for slowed or stopped traffic ahead, and
  3. Keep an eye out for flaggers and construction vehicles in the roadway.

You can slow down for us, or you can stop for the blue lights. Either way, it's up to you ....

In any event, everyone make it a GREAT weekend out there!

Work Zone Safety: Please SLOW DOWN & do your part

Today's Orangeburg Times and Democrat covers a serious problem with work zone safety on one of my company's highway projects on US 321 in Orangeburg County. Two collisions in one afternoon involving a total of seven cars, one 18-wheeler and one pregnant lady.

The second occurred literally minutes after the first one. By some small miracle, no motorists or construction workers were hurt.

These spectacular pictures show what a little speed and a lot of inattention caused. That the truck driver walked away with his head attached is amazing.

Needless to say, we've asked for increased law enforcement patrols. When it comes to choosing between increased danger to workers and motorists or traffic fines and higher insurance, what choice do we have?

Many people who drive through work zones don't think much about it, in part because they don't know someone who may be working there.

Guess what? Now you do know someone who does.

I may work mostly in an office, but I get out on jobsites from Beaufort to Florence, Newberry to Charleston, and I've seen the near-misses, been on sites of fatalities involving vehicles. I've had to jump out of the way of cars, so I know firsthand how dangerous these work zones are.

By some small miracle, my company has had zero serious injuries or fatalities. However, many other companies have plenty of sad stories to tell. These work zone safety facts from the S.C. DOT are sobering.

When driving through work zones, you can do your part to help us by following these ten Work Zone Safe Driving tips will help us greatly.

Our lives are in YOUR hands. Please help us.