Violation Crackdown on US 17 in Beaufort County - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/13/05

Violation Crackdown on US 17 in Beaufort County

Highway 17 is a deadly stretch of road. Five people have been killed there in the last month, and now law enforcement is out in force. The South Carolina Highway Patrol doesn't know exactly how many tickets they've written, but they say they've been surprised at just how many people aren't paying attention and violating the law.

But the highway patrol is making its presence known along this deadly stretch.

"Over the past few days, I've seen quite a few officers and things have slowed down and it's much better," said Beaufort County resident Kathy Byers.

"This isn't a big ticket-writing campaign," said Capt. Jim Woods. "It's a life-saving campaign. We're hoping to prevent injuries and collisions."

Although extra officers have only been out here for a few days, they're catching a lot of violators. "We've been surprised, especially since all the publicity about us being out here," said Capt. Woods. "We've had some rather high speeds coming through here, that has surprised us. I'd say a few minutes ago I was standing here with motor officers and a truck came through here running 70 miles per hour and it's 45-mile speed zone."

Not to mention many drivers who are following too closely and crossing over the center line.

In the next couple of months, the state is planning to add rumble strips along the median of the road on no-passing zones to help avoid some of those head-on collisions.

But highway commissioners say drivers could be seeing another temporary fix a lot earlier. They're planning to reduce the speed limit in some areas from 55 to 50, a bandage approach some say won't fix the problem even temporarily.

"Not at all because they're going 70 or 80 now," said Byers.

The special patrol unit should be out in full force for at least the next few weeks. The highway commission is meeting on Friday and one of the commissioners told us today that it could be in effect as early as couple of weeks.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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