When cars collide at Sibley and North Leg, Mike Schweitzer's first reaction is: "Well, there goes another one."
Schweitzer has a good view of the wrecks from behind the counter of the O'Reilly Auto Parts at the juncture's corner. In six months on the job, he's already seen four.
The convergence of Sibley Road and North Leg is just a stone's throw from the intersection that recorded the most wrecks in 2008: Wrightsboro and North Leg/Jackson Road. The 2009 numbers are still being tallied, but anecdotal evidence suggests the intersection remains a fender-bender magnet.
Andera Sires, the manager of the Wife Saver restaurant at the juncture, can attest to the accuracy of 2008's 75 wrecks.
"They're mostly low-speed cases of people bumping into each other," Sires said, adding that the wrecks run the gamut of fender benders, T-bones and head-on collisions.
Frequent crashes do not necessarily translate into the most lethal, though. None of the top 10 intersections on the 2008 list even had a fatal wreck. The intersection with the most wrecks including a fatal is No. 18 on the list -- Gordon Highway at Olive Road/Old Savannah Road -- with 37 wrecks.
Data from the coroners of both Aiken and Richmond counties gives a better picture of which stretches of road are the most deadly. In Richmond County, the most heavily-traveled roads claim the most lives.
Georgia Highway 56, which runs south out of downtown Augusta as Mike Padgett Highway, tops that list, with four fatalities from Jan. 1, 2009, through March 17, 2010. The locations of those crashes are: south of Dixon Airline Road; two at Country Drive Place; and one at Clark Road, according to the Richmond County Coroner's Office.
After Mike Padgett is Gordon Highway, with three wrecks at: Wylds Road; east of Wylds Road; and at Barton Chapel Road. Interstate 520 had one fatal wreck east of Gordon Highway.
All told, there were 24 fatal wrecks in Richmond County and seven pedestrians killed from 2009 to date.
In South Carolina, a AAA study released March 16 shows that counties bordering Georgia and North Carolina have the highest number of fatal wrecks. Aiken County ranked 25th out of 45 counties for fatal wrecks; neighboring Barnwell and Edgefield counties ranked in the top five.
The study, based on data from 2008, showed a decrease in traffic deaths from the previous year.
Altogether, there were 31 traffic fatalities in Aiken County in 2009, not including the four pedestrians struck on roadways. The worst of these was a three-car crash that killed five people last June on New Holland Road, a mile north of South Carolina Highway 302. A 4-year-old boy was among the victims.
New Holland Road recorded two other wrecks that year, including one at the intersection of Poplar Spring Road.
Records show that alcohol or drugs were a factor in 18 out of 41 Aiken County traffic fatalities, including pedestrians killed.
Seventeen of the fatal crash victims were not wearing seat belts; that number doesn't include pedestrians, motorcyclists or the person killed riding a golf cart.
In North Augusta, wrecks at the 10 most dangerous intersections dropped from 65 in 2008 to 50 in 2009. The leader of the pack between the two years was U.S. 25 and Interstate 20 with 17 wrecks. Martintown Road dominated the listings, with six of its intersections making the top 10 list.
Two intersections tied with 16 combined wrecks between 2008 and 2009: Martintown and Atomic roads and Martintown Road at Knox Avenue, according to the North Augusta Public Safety Department. The other Martintown Road intersections to make the list are: Georgia Avenue, Interstate 20, Bunting Drive and U.S. Highway 1.
Two wrecker services nominate the vast conjunction of Deans Bridge Road and Gordon Highway as the most prone to crashes. A few miles east of there is the juncture of Deans Bridge and Barton Chapel roads, which seems to have the most violent crashes, said Carroll Proctor, the owner of AC Proctor Towing.
The shopping plaza bounded by the Bobby Jones Expressway and Wheeler Road, which includes Target and Regal Cinema, is heavily saturated with cars and sees its fair share of wrecks too, said Dewayne Chancey, the owner of Chancey's Wrecker Services.