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South Carolina community works to improve pedestrian safety

Three years ago, the community of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina suffered a tragedy when the former wife of a local sports team manager was killed in a pedestrian accident while crossing the street. The tragedy sparked a desire in the community to make the section of Highway 17 Business safer for pedestrians, to help ensure a similar accident would never occur again.

To do this, they came up with a modest plan: create crosswalks and reduce the speed limit in the area. Unexpectedly, their proposals met resistance from the Department of Transportation, who would not allow them to do either, stating that the current speed of 35 was safe and efficient. In response, the community formulated another plan to reorganize the driving lanes, making the biking lane wider and adding a divider separating it from the driving traffic.

While the new plan has yet to be approved, it is steps like these that can help create a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly environment, helping lower the number of accidents that could seriously harm individuals. Unfortunately, until these safety precautions are enacted, the roads may continue to have random pedestrian crossings and a lack of the infrastructure designed to keep pedestrians safe. This creates an increased likelihood that a pedestrian could get hit by a car.

In such an environment, it is no surprise that accidents could occur. When they do, they often spark community backlash as well as legal trouble for those responsible. If drivers are held liable for pedestrian accidents, which depends on partly on negligence as well as other factors, they could be held financially responsible for the injuries sustained by the pedestrians. This includes costs for pain and suffering, loss of wages and perhaps even long-term medical costs.

Source: WMBF News, "Group works to address Murrells Inlet road safety concerns," Brennan Somers, Oct. 18, 2012

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