SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The highest number of fatal car accidents happen between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a time frame known as the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer.”
On Tybee Island, around 90,000 people visited over Memorial Day weekend. City officials said peak tourist season is statistically when they have the most fatal car crashes.
“Right now we’re tracking about the same numbers as we saw a year ago, so early in the season, but we’re seeing heavy traffic already,” City Manager Shawn Gillen explained.
More than 30% of teen driver fatalities happen in the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend. Gillen said with thousands of people heading onto the island every weekend, they urge defensive driving.
“The bridges are narrow, so it makes it difficult if there is an accident. We do know that GDOT’s now got a plan in place for funding of two new bridges: the Lazaretto Creek Bridge and the Bull River Bridge. But, you know, you’re several years out from that actually opening up,” Gillen added.
With only one way on and off of Tybee Island, Highway 80 is a hotspot for wrecks. Gillen said a fatal crash could close the roadway for more than five hours.
“We’re always concerned about that. We always have backup plans that we have when weather is cooperative. We have helicopter access to the island if we need to evacuate someone with a medical emergency. We also work with GDOT and the GSP and Chatham County Police to make sure that if we have to get in a medical emergency off the island, that we can, but there’s always going to be that chance that there’s a bad enough accident that the road is shut down,” Gillen explained.
The city’s been working for more than a decade to alleviate traffic and congestion, but Gillen said it could take at least another five years before there’s a road expansion.
“A right of way acquisition should begin in the next calendar year for the river. If everything goes perfectly, you’re looking at five years before they would have that bridge open and that’s probably not going to happen, but that’s more progress than we’ve made in the last 20 years. We just ask drivers to stay off your cell phone when you’re driving on that road because it is narrow and you drive defensively because the other drivers may not be paying attention.”
Officials said the best way to prevent an accident is to slow down and pay attention, especially with the high volume of visitors on the island who don’t know the road networks.