Helping injured people is our job at Coastal Law, and we love doing it. But, what if we could help to avoid traffic accidents before they happen? Would new traffic flow designs help to decrease auto collisions in Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Columbia, and other high-traffic areas in SC? In most cases, traffic patterns are not being redesigned because the cost is not worth it to municipalities. But, what about the cost to the people who are injured and killed every day on SC highways? The cost to insurance companies who must pay damages in the aftermath of auto accidents in SC? Here are a few ideas that might help, if cities and counties were willing to spend the money…

The Diverging Diamond

What is the one traffic scenario that probably leads to the most accidents? Left turns…

  • Left turns into oncoming traffic;
  • Left turns into a motorcycle’s path;
  • Left turns into a bicycle’s path; and
  • Left turns into pedestrians who are crossing the road at intersections.

On major highways, the “diverging diamond” would eliminate the left turn by directing traffic around medians in “ribbons,” allowing motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians to merge onto on-ramps in a sort-of roundabout design. Need to turn right? Just stay in the right lane and it will take you there. Need to turn left? Just stay in the left lane – no need to stop at a traffic light or turn into oncoming traffic. 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. See for yourself:

Pedestrian Collisions in SC

In heavy-traffic areas like Myrtle Beach, Charleston, or Columbia, SC, diverging diamond style intersections would have an obvious impact on pedestrian deaths as well – the design not only eliminates left turns, but it also eliminates the need for pedestrians or bicyclists to cross heavy traffic at intersections. What else would be effective to prevent pedestrian injuries and deaths? A 2016 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association makes several recommendations for evidence-based strategies to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities including:

  • Refuge islands;
  • Sidewalks;
  • Pedestrian overpasses or tunnels;
  • Count-down pedestrian signals with ample time for crossing;
  • Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons; and
  • Traffic signals.

The report also recommends making pedestrians more visible to drivers with improved street lighting, high-visibility crosswalks, and rectangular rapid-flashing beacons (RRFBs) on pedestrian crossing signs.

South Carolina Auto Accident Attorney

These suggestions and others could save lives and prevent thousands of trips to the hospital each year for South Carolina motorists and pedestrians if our state and local governments were willing to spend the funds that are needed to make our highways safe. When an accident does happen, your Myrtle Beach auto accident lawyer at Coastal Law is here to help you recover full compensation from the at-fault driver and their insurance company. Call us now at (843) 488-5000 or fill out our online form to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.

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