There were 117 pedestrian accidents in Horry County alone last year, and 17 of them resulted in deaths.
South Carolina is near the top of the list of most dangerous states for pedestrians in 2018 (number ten according to statistics compiled by smartgrowthamerica.org), and Horry County has more than its share.
Why are there so many pedestrian accidents and deaths?
As long as some people are driving cars while other people are walking, there will most likely be collisions between pedestrians and cars. Aren’t there traffic designs that would prevent at least some of those deaths, though?
Pedestrian Accidents in Horry County
Horry County and the Myrtle Beach area has had more than its share of pedestrians struck by vehicles, including fatal pedestrian accidents in Horry County.
Below is a map compiled by the SC Department of Public Safety showing every pedestrian accident in Horry County during the year 2018 – including 107 collisions and 17 deaths:
Pedestrian Accidents in 2018
According to smartgrowthamerica.org:
- 49,340 pedestrians were killed in America by drivers between 2008 and 2017 – that’s not the total number of accidents, it’s the number of people who died after being hit by cars;
- Over the past decade, the number of pedestrians who were killed by motor vehicles increased by 35%; while
- Vehicle travel miles increased by only 8.1%; and
- Walking increased by less than 1%.
They ranked SC as the 10th most dangerous state for walking, while two SC cities made the top 20 list for most dangerous metro areas (Greenville/Anderson/Mauldin and Augusta/Richmond County on the border of SC and GA).
Per the SCDPS map above, there were 107 pedestrian accidents in Horry County and 17 deaths. The most dangerous road in the area for walking was Kings Highway (17 business) with 12 pedestrian accidents – seven on Kings Highway and five on North Kings Highway.
What about so far this year?
Pedestrian Accidents in 2019
According to the SC Highway Patrol, one in five traffic deaths so far this year were pedestrians struck by motor vehicles – which already puts us on track to exceed last year’s number of pedestrian deaths.
Poor Design Causes Pedestrian Deaths
There isn’t a single magic solution to prevent pedestrian accidents in Horry County – some collisions would not be prevented by any type of traffic design, while other potential solutions would vary from location to location.
There are some designs that seem simple enough that would almost certainly prevent accidents and deaths – like sidewalks.
In other locations, pedestrian overpasses, tunnels, and refuge islands in the center of roadways might save lives. For busy intersections, designs like the diverging diamond would save lives if the government was willing to pay for the modifications…
In areas where there are people walking along the roadside, sidewalks seem like a no-brainer.
Yet, there are still many areas in Horry County where people are dying because there is no safe place to walk. Peachtree Road in Socastee is one – despite several deaths including a 28-year-old woman who was the victim of a hit and run and whose body was not found on the roadside until six days after she was killed.
In the past ten years, this one road has been responsible for 58 collisions, 22 injuries, and two deaths…
What is a Human Life Worth?
Once it has been proven that pedestrians will die on a particular road without sidewalks, the government is selling future citizens lives for the price of a sidewalk so long as they do not build one.
How much does it cost to install a sidewalk along a roadside?
I don’t know what it would cost. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, it costs 10$ a square foot. For a three-foot-wide sidewalk, that would be roughly $15,000 a mile. How long is that stretch of Peachtree Road? Again, I don’t know. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, it’s three miles and that a sidewalk would cost roughly $45,000.
Two people have died on that road. Splitting the cost between the two, the government has saved $23,500 apiece for allowing the deaths of those two pedestrians. Is that worth it?
Maybe my numbers are off. Do your own math, based on your understanding of the cost of a sidewalk and the length of the highway. Divide it by two. Is each pedestrian’s life worth that amount of money?
Other Traffic Designs that Reduce Injuries and Deaths
The diverging diamond is an intersection design that would completely eliminate left-turn crashes at intersections:
There are already 90 locations in the United States that are either building or have already built diverging diamond patterns at intersections. The first diverging diamond intersection in the U.S. was built in Springfield Missouri, and, in the first five years, left turn crashes were completely eliminated while the total number of car crashes was reduced by 46 percent.
What would the cost be to make this change at busy intersections in Myrtle Beach? When pedestrians are killed by drivers making a left turn, are their lives worth the amount of money that was saved by not making the change?
Many intersections do have safety designs that protect pedestrians, but lives can still be saved by adding protections like:
- Refuge islands;
- Pedestrian overpasses or tunnels;
- Count-down pedestrian signals with ample time for crossing;
- Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons;
- Traffic signals;
- Improved street lighting; and
- High visibility crosswalks.
Pedestrian Accident Lawyers in Horry County, SC
The Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyers at Coastal Law help people who have been injured, including people who have been struck by a vehicle while walking down the road or crossing an intersection.