A young teacher and her unborn child were killed last week at the intersection of U.S. 278 and Buck Island Road in Bluffton.
Wrecks are frequent there.
Someone who lives in a neighborhood accessed through that intersection said, “It’s known as ‘The Intersection of Death’.”
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The S.C. Department of Transportation could immediately enact a change to make it less dangerous. It should do that, and town of Bluffon and Beaufort County leaders need to push SCDOT into action.
The change is obvious, and SCDOT is well aware of it.
The highway department needs to change the traffic light so that motorists turning left can turn only when oncoming traffic is stopped at a red light. The left-turn signals on U.S. 278 should be green when vehicles can turn and red when they cannot. There should be no other option.
Yet, today a yellow blinking light guides motorists turning left. It is a recipe for disaster. It encourages motorists to make a foolish dash across a wide highway with a flood of cars and heavy trucks barreling at them at 70 mph.
SCDOT apparently knows there is a better way, because the blinking yellow lights were cranked up recently.
Motorists should not be given the option to dash cross oncoming traffic on U.S. 278.
They can’t handle that responsibility in a normal intersection. They lack the patience or attention span. They succumb to impatient drivers behind them and go when they know they shouldn’t. They nearly cause countless horrendous wrecks by making that foolish dart. We can stop that.
And DOT must remember that this is not a normal intersection.
Left turns require crossing three lanes of speeding traffic. The turn requires a wide sweep across an expanse of highway that is much wider than motorists expect it to be. It takes them longer to dodge the oncoming traffic than they think it will.
Beyond that, they face an incline to turn left onto Buck Island Road because the eastbound and westbound lanes of U.S. 278 are on decidedly different elevations in that intersection.
Beyond that, eastbound traffic on U.S. 278 is coming out of a curve. Those vehicles can be on top of the vehicle crossing the highway in the blink of an eye.
The best way to help this horrible situation is to stop, immediately, the blinking yellow lights and never turn them on again.
On top of that, the Bluffton Police Department, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and the S.C. Highway Patrol could do more to control the speeding on U.S. 278.
Tragedy on the highways cannot be avoided. But in this situation, more can be done, and it should be done today.