Brett Elliott, a Cottageville trucker, has seen people die in accidents on Interstate 26.

“It’s awful. It’s not wide enough,” he said.

He considers the interstate the deadliest stretch of road he drives in the Carolinas and Georgia.

Elliott said his feelings reflect the opinions of most truckers who drive I-26.

“It’s just not equipped to handle the kind of traffic it takes,” he said.

On many segments of I-26, average daily traffic increased five-fold since the highway opened in the late 1960s. The interstate near its junction with Interstate 526 sees 133,500 vehicles daily on average, according to news reports.

Elliott said the stretch of I-26 from Orangeburg to Charleston is particularly hazardous. The state Department of Transportation has noticed the problem, too, and in response it has launched a study of fatalities in that area, said Tony Sheppard, director of traffic engineering.

What caught the eye of engineers is the 57 traffic deaths that happened in that section of the interstate from 2006 to 2009. That is 42 percent of all fatalities on I-26 in South Carolina during that time, Sheppard said.

“This is what got us looking in that area,” he said.

The DOT is studying crash patterns to see what factors might be involved from an engineering standpoint.

“We haven’t gotten it boiled down to any sort of recommendation yet. It’s a priority for us to look at,” he said.

Acccording to the latest available figures, I-26 is the deadliest interstate in South Carolina.

Read more in Monday’s edition of The Post and Courier.