Originally created 01/26/03

Deans Bridge ranks as most perilous road in Augusta statistics



Augustans should watch out when they drive down Deans Bridge Road. It tops the list of the most dangerous roads in Augusta in terms of the number of auto accidents with injuries.

"Deans Bridge Road - (U.S. Highway) 1 in general - is a disaster," said Priscilla Bence of Augusta's Safe Communities Coalition.

Nearly 183 accidents involving injuries occurred on that road during the most recent tabulated year, 2001. Data for all of 2002 will not be available until later in the year, Ms. Bence said.

But measures have been taken to improve the safety of Deans Bridge Road. Dennis Ellis of Augusta-Richmond Traffic Engineering said the addition of left-turn arrow signals and the alteration of street configurations so drivers can't turn without an arrow are two improvements the city has made.

Second behind Deans Bridge was Bobby Jones Expressway, which recorded 134 accidents with injuries, and Gordon Highway, which had 122, according to Traffic Engineering records.

The number of accidents involving injuries in Richmond County spiked in 2001 at 3,228, and the coalition had predicted 2,690 crashes last year. But only 1,876 injury accidents occurred from January to October 2002, Ms. Bence said.

From 1997 to 2001, those numbers fell about 24 percent, then spiked 3.6 percent in 2001, she said.

Ms. Bence attributed the reduction to better speed-limit enforcement.

Statewide, traffic fatalities in Georgia increased about 13 percent from 1994 to 2001, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. In Richmond County, the increase was nearly 58 percent.

But the true measure of traffic danger is not the death rate but the injury rate, Ms. Bence said.

Augusta's traffic growth hasn't been matched with a change in mind-set, Ms. Bence said.

"If people would just slow down, it would make it safer for everybody," Ms. Bence said. "You can't get from point A to point B in 15 minutes like you used to."

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or at jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.