Originally created 08/01/98

Wreck sites common



Columbia County drivers are always giving sheriff's Deputy James Allen something to occupy his time.

If he's not enforcing traffic laws, you will probably find him at the latest fender bender.

"This month I probably worked close to 30 wrecks, and I'm one of six traffic units," he said.

And chances are those wrecks will be at one of the county's 29 most dangerous intersections.

According to an analysis of intersection accidents conducted as part of the yearly Augusta Regional Transportation Study, Columbia County had 29 intersections with 10 or more accidents in 1997.

Most of the accidents were in the Martinez-Evans area, which has the majority of county traffic.

"Usually what we're talking about there is simple property damage accidents," Deputy Allen said. "Rarely do we have a substantial amount of accidents there with injuries."

Most of the problems are due to traffic volume and driver carelessness, especially when roads turn slick during afternoon storms, he said.

"(Drivers) don't adjust the speed and they end up sticking another vehicle; they're changing lanes and they're not paying attention to the cars in front of them," he said. "One of our large problem areas is a stretch of Bobby Jones Expressway where it enters our county and connects with Washington Road."

Congested traffic can also lead to flared tempers and aggressive driving, which is becoming more and more common as the county continues to grow, he said.

"(Drivers) get so impatient that they try to take back roads, or they try to maneuver unsafely -- going into oncoming lanes," he said. "We have worked accidents where people have hit other vehicles in the rear end on purpose. They're yelling and screaming and pulling over and having verbal confrontations."

But in reality, the most dangerous intersections can be those with lighter traffic, such as the intersection in western Columbia County known as Pumpkin Center, at Georgia Highway 47 and Wrightsboro Road.

"We have had some very serious, even fatal accidents out in that area," Deputy Allen said. "But now since we've put something up as simple as a yellow flashing light, it seems to have helped."



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