More families are coming to the Lowcountry.
But with that population influx comes more cars and traffic.
That traffic boom is leading to major problems in several areas, including Burton.
That’s how many more accidents have happened in the Burton Fire District so far this year than last.
There’s been a 47% increase in crashes with injuries in that same time frame.
In the last week alone, three accidents at one intersection along Robert Smalls Parkway. Including one that left someone dead.
“We probably average one call there a week, at least. If not more,” says Lt John Perry of Burton Fire/EMS.
LT John Perry is talking about the intersection of Robert Smalls and Savannah Highway.
Three times in past week major crashes happened there – coming off the broad river bridge or leaving Beaufort.
“Overall we have seen a 30% increase in motor vehicle accidents in Beaufort County,” explains Captain Daniel Byrne of the Burton Fire Department. “That could be attributed to the number of cars, population increase. but what’s alarming to us is we’ve seen an increase in injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents. So not only are we having more accidents, they are becoming more violent and more fatalities.”
“We are here in case someone needs us, we don’t want to be needed,” said Lt Perry.
LT Perry works out of Burton’s Shell Point station.
He says he’ll run on a crash at that intersection once a week, or more.
Its not the only trouble spot.
Perry and many firefighters put the blame on the drivers.
“Carelessness on all parties involved,” explains Perry. “If its clear skies they are going to go a little faster because if its clear skies if it’s raining they are going to try and beat the severe rain.”
“People’s lack of common sense, losing how to drive properly as they learned in driver’s education, and they forget.”
“At the intersections where we are seeing these collisions, have traffic signals, have reasonable speed limits and are well marked, so it comes down to the driver and caution,” said Byrne. “Don’t try to anticipate the speeds of the other vehicles to judge whether you are going to pull out or not, make sure it’s safe to do so.”
“That’s normal. A yellow light means speed up to go through the light. people don’t understand it means slow down prepare to stop,” says Perry.
“All it takes is one split second decision, the wrong decision, to impact your life forever,” said Byrne.
Burton fire says almost 25% of all their calls are now motor vehicle accidents. That’s double what they’ve seen in past years.
Those injuries are more extensive, which means more time for crews on the road and less time to take other important fire, medical and accident calls.