A major widening project on Interstate 26 in North Charleston has significantly reduced traffic congestion since its completion in 2011. But there also has been an increase in accidents along that four-mile stretch.
That re-confirms this sad reality about the greatest hazard to highway safety: Bad drivers.
As Prentiss Findlay reported in Sunday's Post and Courier, since the widening of I-26 from Aviation Avenue and Remount Road to Ashley Phosphate Road: "More drivers are speeding and tailgating, causing more collisions, law enforcement agencies report."
Such crashes have already produced two fatalities on that part of I-26 this year, after only one in the previous three years.
Meanwhile, that new interchange at Aviation and Remount has become a rush-hour "choke point." S.C. Department of Transportation engineers are working on a plan to re-configure that junction to facilitate a better - and safer - traffic flow.
But though improving road designs can save lives, even the most artful lane arrangements can't eliminate the daily menace presented by speeders, tailgaters, erratic lane changers and distracted drivers. And though Gov. Nikki Haley signed legislation last month banning texting while driving, that reckless practice remains a clear and present South Carolina danger.
Our story reported that according to experts, "driver inattention - primarily using cellphones while driving" is a big factor driving up highway accident rates.
As for that section of I-26, S.C. Highway Patrol spokeswoman Hannah Wimberly told our reporter: "Speeding and following too closely are the biggest issues in this area."
In other words, irresponsible drivers persist as a deadly road risk.
Clearly, motorists should heed the safety experts and stop speeding, following too closely or eating a leaky breakfast biscuit while tapping out a message on the cell phone.
Failing that, the safety experts who wear badges and use blue lights should insist on timely interventions, particularly at those high-risk intersections.
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