Speed Limit Lowered on US 17

Over the past nine years, more than 30 people have lost their lives in wrecks along US Highway 17 between Gardens Corner in Beaufort County and Colleton County.

In fact, just last month, four people were killed in a horrible accident on that stretch of road. Since then, Gov. Mark Sanford put a special highway patrol unit in the area to help reduce the number of accidents.

Today, the state added another temporary safety measure to that deadly stretch. They reduced the speed limit.

Most of the people in the area we spoke with were very happy to finally see something being done. But most agree, it's just a start.

"Every day I travel the road, I'm wondering, 'Am I going to be a statistic?'" said Portia Holmes. "Am I going to be the one to die in a fatal accident?"

To help reduce those statistics, the state has just lowered the speed limit from 55 to 50. Although most people in the area are happy to see something being done, not everyone agrees it will put an end to the crashes.

"Lowering the speed limit isn't going to do it," said Holmes. "They didn't obey the speed limit when it was 55. They are not going to do it at 50. That's only a five-mile-per hour difference."

Holmes, like many others, is hoping it will slow drivers down, especially those just passing through, but isn't confident it will.

"I honestly don't feel like it's going to affect them," she said. "I mean, because we live in the area, we're going to obey it and be more cognitive of it but, no. They're just trying to get by one way or another."

The state has also put up message boards to alert drivers of this new change. But most of the locals living in the area want a more permanent solution to the problem.

"That's not going to be the answer to our problem," said Holmes. "The answer to our problem is getting the road widened. We definitely need that."

The state will also be adding rumble strips to the median within the next two months to help avoid some of those head-on collisions in the area, and the special enforcement by the highway patrol will be out there for at least another week.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com