JASPER CO., SC (WTOC) - The I-95 corridor in Jasper County has seen almost 50 percent more fatal accidents than any other highway system in the state of South Carolina. People call it 'the Coffin Corridor.'
"We don't want that name," said Hardeeville Police Chief, Sam Woodward. "South Carolina doesn't need that name."
That name is because almost one-third of the wrecks on it are fatal. It may look like any other stretch of highway with straight roads and wide roads, but trees right off of it have ended the lives of over two-dozen people in the past 10 years alone.
The cause of these deaths is not drinking, but rather things like texting and trees.
"It doesn't matter why they leave the road to me. It didn't matter. That didn't matter. What matters to me is the vehicles being impacted with the trees were causing death," said Chief Woodward.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation says when a car collides with sizeable trees, the impact is too hard, and so are the calls they have to make to loved ones after. Here's their solution:
"It's guidewire. Basically, it stretches. If you hit it, it stretches and you slow down."
Why are people running off this highway so often in the first place?
"That's the thing we didn't understand because I could understand if it was curvy, hilly, or something like that and we just didn't understand why. One of the things we did in the study, it looks like for people, by the time they got in this area, they were tired."
The study showed the length of travel all the way up and down the East Coast was too much for drivers. Jasper County is a midway point; a stopping point, and for many, a breaking point.
"We can change the Coffin Corridor into something more pleasant."
The $5 million project that's underway will stretch from mile marker 28 all the way into Georgia. It's an expensive project, but they say even if it saves one life, it's worth every penny. Chief Woodward says when it's over with, he'll finally be able to sleep at night.
"I'm going to feel the public is going to be a lot safer, and that's the goal," Chief Woodward said. "Over the years, since the interstate's been built, the trees have gotten bigger and the limbs have started hanging over the interstate and that kind of stuff, so they did a study and it showed that this needed to be done."
Even though the police chief's concern is the deaths, not the reason behind them, you have to wonder why a straight and typical highway like this causes so many accidents in the first place.