Eyes on the road

From distractions to dangers, we've got to make our roads safer

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Tyler J. Smith’s life had ultimate meaning, even compressed as it was into 14 short years. Just the love and happiness he brought to family and friends gave his existence a deep significance and lasting value.

That import is intrinsic, placed there lovingly by our maker.

Now that he’s been taken, in what appears to be a true and tragic accident, it’s up to society to grapple with the meaning of his death.

There are a number of vital elements to the manner of his death Thursday; he was on a go-kart just off busy Hardy McManus Road in Evans where he lived when a reportedly distracted driver veered off the road and struck and pinned him beneath a pickup truck.

First, of course, there’s the matter of the alleged distraction. Authorities say the driver, Kenneth Gill, 58, of North Augusta, was apparently looking at his cell phone at the time.

Then there’s the road conditions: The weather was not a factor, nor the lighting – it was 11 a.m. on a beautiful fall day. No, what may have contributed to the crash is the fact that Hardy McManus, 45-mph in most stretches, is a winding road with almost no shoulder. And in that particular portion, in front of Woodruff Way subdivision, drivers are cautioned to slow to 35 mph for the curve, which leads to an active railroad crossing.

The road’s supposed shoulder also slopes dramatically, near low-lying wetland.

There are more dangerous roads out there, but there are a lot safer ones, too. There’s simply little room for error on such roadways. The two-lane and unendingly winding William Few Parkway, from Washington Road to Columbia Road, is another example, and has hosted its own fatal accidents.

A number of roads in Columbia County trace their origin to more rural days in which road planners and builders frequently took the path of least resistance, leading to narrow roads that take multiple twists and turns.

That was then, but this is now. The county’s population, and therefore its vehicular traffic, has exploded in recent years and decades – and, as is often the case, the roads haven’t kept up. Not by a long-shot.

We would urge officials to consider straightening and
widening Hardy McManus, or moving up any plans to do so.

We would also beg area drivers to use this tragedy to be safer yourselves. Slow down. Signal. Obey the speed limits. Don’t pass others on a narrow, twisting road that features two solid yellow lines indicating it’s illegal to pass.

And by all means, put down the phones!

There is no indication that the driver in this case was speeding or doing anything imprudent other than diverting his attention to his cell phone. That’s all it takes, in many cases – especially on that winding, narrow road so indigenous to this area. Just a moment of distraction can lead to drift. Drift can lead to death.

Lives are on the line.

And sometimes, they’re just a few feet outside one.

Comments (12) Add comment
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faithson
5507
Points
faithson 10/11/13 - 10:28 pm
2
1
thanks for the reminder...

drive that streach often.. with my Iphone on the ready.. thoughtful consideration.. thanks

palmetto1008
9782
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palmetto1008 10/12/13 - 03:40 am
1
0
so right, faithson. There,
Unpublished

so right, faithson. There, but for the grace of God go too many of us. Time to wake up.

myfather15
56363
Points
myfather15 10/12/13 - 06:31 am
5
1
Yes, there is good advice in

Yes, there is good advice in this letter. But it appears the author wants to place more blame on the County, than the individual. Every crash, unless it's due to vehicle malfunction (Such as brakes failing) is caused by individual decisions and error, period.

Yes, every County has curving, narrow roads; it's a fact of life. Each County also places signs to warn drivers of approaching curves and gives a suggested speed limit, when manuvering through the curves. They also place rumble strips, to warn driver's of upcoming stop signs. They place warning signs in high deer traffic areas, intersections, etc.

It is the individual people that pay no attention to signs, but certainly can't miss that text message; that are at fault. One of the most common answers, when people are stopped for speeding is "I didn't know it was 45mph." The most common response from myself and most other LE officers is "It's posted in numerous places. When we are done here, drive back and you will see them."

But the fact is, they actually didn't see them the first time they came through. Why? Because they probably had to much going on to pay attention. Whether they were day dreaming, talking on the phone, talking to passengers, playing with the radio, eating, doing makeup, shaving, dropped coffee in their lap or the thousands of other things people do in vehicles; they simply do not pay attention to the signs on the roadway.

No matter what we do, or how many laws we pass; we will never eliminate human error!! People are going to be people!! Law enforcement officers go through extensive training each year; in how to operate emergency vehicles with due regard in relation to the public. Yet, each day, there are also officers and deputies driving in complete disregard for the safety of the public. Citizens are no different. The vast majority of law enforcement officer deaths in the United States are caused by vehicle crashes, while responding to calls for service. We have this seered into our minds, yet officers still get killed daily because of their driving.

Citizens are no different and MOST have never received the first hour of training. In this case, if convicted; Kenneth Gill will probably spend quite a few years in prison. I don't know Mr. Gill, but I can probably venture an educated guess to say he didn't mean to kill this 14 year old boy. My guess is, if Mr. Gill is a decent human being; he will have nightmares about this day, for years to come. Unfortunately, a young life has been lost and Mr. Gill's nightmares will not be enough punishment according to the law. He will have to spend time in prison, for this lesson that he learned about distracted driving and paying attention.

The question people need to ask themselves is; IS today YOUR DAY, to learn this lesson the hard way? Will YOU take the advice and apply it to your driving habits? Or will TODAY, be YOUR day to learn the hard way that you shouldn't be distracted while driving? Do not be TODAY'S Mr. Gill!! Because it WILL happen again today, somewhere!! The only question is, will it be YOUR DAY??

Bizkit
35445
Points
Bizkit 10/12/13 - 07:16 am
2
1
This is a tragic and awful

This is a tragic and awful incident-my sympathies to the family. How many of us are fiddling with our cell phones in distraction. But at least this man has an excuse why he ran over this young lad. The man who ran over 7 bikers killing one had no such excuses. I wonder if this man will walk with no punishment as the murderer of the doctor. My bet is no and he will spend time for an accident, and he didn't even gun his engines like the man who murdered the biker. Why the huge difference how each incident was handled-one charges took weeks this one immediate, I am sure they checked for alcohol in this incident unlike the other, etc. Injustice.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 10/12/13 - 07:57 am
0
0
Cell phones,
Unpublished

texting and make-up are of NO importance while DRIVING. Yes, I'm screaming it as loud as I can. If you are guilty of anyone of these three, you are an IDIOT and should lose your driving privileges.

soapy_725
44097
Points
soapy_725 10/12/13 - 08:22 am
0
0
Way to go myfather. This was NO ACCIDENT. Accident means
Unpublished

unforeseen and unpreventable. The word accident also diminishes personal responsibility. Human injuries must be analyzed for cause and effect if there is every to be a cure.

soapy_725
44097
Points
soapy_725 10/12/13 - 08:22 am
0
0
Cause and effect. Give a loaded gun to a man with limited sight
Unpublished

Cause and effect. Give a loaded gun to a man with limited sight

soapy_725
44097
Points
soapy_725 10/12/13 - 08:21 am
0
0
Cause and effect. Place a drunk driver in a 4000# WMD
Unpublished

Cause and effect. Place a drunk driver in a 4000# WMD

soapy_725
44097
Points
soapy_725 10/12/13 - 08:23 am
0
0
A true accident, no one is punished. It just happened.
Unpublished

A true accident, no one is punished. It just happened.

soapy_725
44097
Points
soapy_725 10/12/13 - 08:27 am
0
0
CC engineers certainly can't be held responsible for roads&bridg
Unpublished

Is this a neighborhood, county, state or federal roadway. Laws are different. Just ask the LEO's. Just ask those who repair and enhance.
The Appling-Harlem Hwy appears to be all, hence the shovel ready project to nowhere.

Five lanes in two. Two four lanes and one three lane empties into a two lane.

soapy_725
44097
Points
soapy_725 10/12/13 - 08:29 am
0
0
Rural roads are to blame. Curves. Look to Aiken Co.
Unpublished

Rural roads are to blame. Curves. Look to Aiken Co.

soapy_725
44097
Points
soapy_725 10/12/13 - 08:32 am
0
0
Thankfully we have some roads invented by Adolf Hitler. Wide,
Unpublished

limited access, thick core base for military traffic, no foot traffic, no bike traffic, no scooter traffic, no golf carts, no running events, just moving motorized vehicles fast and efficiently.

localguy55
5477
Points
localguy55 10/12/13 - 09:18 am
2
0
Cell phones are becoming a

Cell phones are becoming a major cause of automobile accidents and this was one extreme example of what is happening all over this nation. I myself have been nearly sideswiped by not only female but male drivers while using their cell phone, so it is not a gender thing. It is a serious distraction that people are not willing to address. Why, because they are addicted to the notion that we can not live without that phone stuck in our ears.

I remember when there were no cell phones we were able to function. But this rant is not about banning cell phones as much as it is limiting their use while driving.

I rarely use my phone while driving but it is amasing to see so many people talking as I am traveling to work. Who do these people have to talk to that early that they could not have called from home before leaving. And why is it so important that they can't wait until they get to work to make that same call. These are the questions that each driver needs to ask themselves.
I am not sure what will happen to the guy but he needs to be punished as harshly as a drunk driver would have been and the laws need to be changed to make serious accidents caused by drivers using cell phones a felony.
If something is not done to address this serious problem there will be more deaths by cell phone distracted drivers.

Darby
29181
Points
Darby 10/12/13 - 10:18 am
2
0
Michael Ryan
800
Points
Michael Ryan 10/12/13 - 10:39 am
0
0
Sheriff's officers were out

Sheriff's officers were out in force Saturday morning, as that stretch of Hardy McManus was being surveyed. They must plan some quick action on it.

Jake
33992
Points
Jake 10/12/13 - 10:42 am
1
0
Cell phone laws

It is illegal here in California to use a hand held cell phone while driving, even when you are stopped at a red light. However, I witness everyday individuals using their hand held phones while driving, in defiance of the law.
Some violators are easy to spot like the one's driving 25mph in a 35mph zone and holding up traffic. The ones texting are the worst.
It is a good law but it needs to be enforced to be effective.

Jake
33992
Points
Jake 10/12/13 - 10:54 am
0
0
Columbia Co Roads

On a recent trip to the CSRA it was apparent to me that the stretch of Washington Rd from Hilali Farm Rd to beyond Windmill Plantation is a woefully inadequate stretch of only 2 lanes. Continuous stretches of tightly packed autos make it a commute that I would hate to have to make. It is just as bad as some of the congestion we have in the Bay Area and we have well over 4 million people out this way.
While growth in a given area can be nice for many different reasons, poor planning in regards to traffic flow make that growth undesirable if you are sitting in traffic and trying to get home. The friend who I was staying with told me that you have to plan your trips according to the traffic flow congestion or you are doomed for a long wait.

735
Points
Barry Paschal 10/12/13 - 02:42 pm
0
0
Hardy McManus plans

Any upgrades to Hardy McManus have nothing to do with this tragedy. If you've noticed the construction equipment at Grace Baptist Church, that's because William Few Parkway is being extended to tie in there. Hardy McManus is being improved to handle the traffic.

Bizkit
35445
Points
Bizkit 10/12/13 - 02:55 pm
0
0
They need to fix the traffic

They need to fix the traffic in front of Riverside Middle School and make Washington Rd 4 lane to the traffic light at Greenbrier. I feel sorry for the people who drive it bumper to bumper everyday.

735
Points
Barry Paschal 10/12/13 - 08:15 pm
0
0
Fury's Ferry & Washington Road

Fury's Ferry (in front of Riverside Middle) is scheduled to be widened from the state line to Evans-to-Locks. Washington Road widening already is underway. - the county is just about finished purchasing the right-of-way or condemning the parts that the owners won't sell.

lifeiscompletewithGod
4
Points
lifeiscompletewithGod 10/17/13 - 09:55 am
0
0
he is beyond heart broken for

he is beyond heart broken for this family and the life that was taken.Mr.Gill has the kindest heart and the greatest faith. I know God will handle this on each families end. My prayers are with the smith's family and the the Gill's family.
He WAS NOT using his phone before or during this tragic accident!

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