BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - First responders in Beaufort County say there have been more traffic accidents at major intersections this year than last year.
"In 2017, we've had an increase in motor vehicle accidents as well as an increase in the amount of motor vehicle accidents that resulted in injuries," Lt. Daniel Byrne, spokesperson for the Burton Fire District, said. "I can tell you from personal experience, though we don't keep statistics on these, but the calls that I have been to myself, the nature of the injuries are more horrific and more debilitating than they have [been] in the past."
On Saturday and Sunday, the Burton Fire District responded to two serious accidents at major intersections. One of those crashes was fatal.
Saturday's early morning wreck at Laurel Bay Road and Stanley Farm Road left a 19-year-old dead and three others seriously injured.
On Sunday, a three-vehicle crash injured two people.
"The motor vehicle accidents we've responded to from my station, the impacts, the damages and the injuries are significantly higher and worse off than they were last year, and that was one of the things that caught our attention and one of the reasons why we're tracking these statistics a little bit closer, Lt. Byrne said.
Lt. Byrne said Laurel Bay Road is the only major thoroughfare that's seen a significant increase in accidents since this time last year, but they have also responded to more crashes on Robert Smalls Parkway.
He thinks more people in the county and on the roads contribute to the increase in crashes.
"Well, the population in Beaufort County is exploding, and factual statistics say the more people who are on the roadway, the more vehicles are on the roadway, you're going to have more accidents," Lt. Byrne said. "So, there's definitely a correlation there. The infrastructure, the amount of roadway miles added compared to the population that's increased, I don't think quite matches up the way it should, but definitely, the population. The more vehicles on the road, you're going to have more accidents."
Lt. Byrne said he doesn't think road condition is a factor, and it's people, not streets, that cause crashes.
"I can say with 110 percent certainty roadways do not cause traffic accidents," he said. "The roadways that we have, in fact, have been created safer due to intersections and roadway markings and speed limits being reduced, so the lawmakers are doing what they can to make these roads safer. So it is absolutely 100 percent the people on the roadway."
He said national problems, like inattention to driving, texting and driving and driving while intoxicated, are all things he sees in Beaufort County, and those combined with more people driving really creates a problem.
"I can say there are more significant intersections, and I can tell you from me personal experience as a driver myself, and [from] friends and coworkers that the roads are getting very congested," he said. "People are getting impatient, and they're more likely to take a chance at an intersection to zip out in traffic or make a turn when they're not supposed to, resulting in an accident."
He said seat belts and car seats save lives. He said most of the people who have died or been significantly injured in recent accidents were not wearing seat belts or where not properly restrained in a car seat.