Every highway, every street, every road, everywhere, has something in common.
When there is a crash, caused by excess speed or not, residents will say exactly the same thing: “People fly down that road.”
After writing about more crashes over the years than I can count, my ear is tuned to hearing the phrase. We’ve heard it lately in reference to Augusta’s deadly Highway 56, and last week we heard it about Hereford Farm Road after the death of Cory Morin: “People fly down that road.”
Here’s a news flash: People fly down every road. We all drive too fast.
No, not you, of course; you always obey the speed limit, right? So I’m not talking about you. No need to send me a note proclaiming your speedometer purity, while condemning everyone else who flies down the roads.
How much do we “fly”? On winding Hereford Farm Road alone, Columbia County deputies wrote 85 speeding tickets last year, says Columbia County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris. That’s a pretty hefty number, considering deputies wrote a total of 2,544 speeding tickets on all other roads in the county that residents habitually “fly down.”
The cops are a little behind that pace this year, writing just 1,049 so far. But here’s an open invitation to them: Pick up the pace.
I’m not talking about motorists; you’re doing your part to drive too fast already. I’m talking about deputies writing speeding tickets.
That’s perfectly OK with you, because you always obey the speed limit, right? Nothing to worry about.
Cynics might suspect that deputies ease up the pace of writing tickets during an election year; after all, they don’t want to make too many people mad and have them turn against the sheriff, right?
Anyone who knows Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle will tell you that isn’t even remotely a worry. Besides: He’s already had been re-elected as no one signed up to run against him. In fact, no one has run against him since 2004.
There’s nothing stopping traffic cops from a ticket-blizzard, then, except the right foot of motorists flying down every road in the county. If they ease up on the gas pedal, they don’t have to worry about getting ticketed.
But if they don’t? Nail them. Every one.
Investigators say speed didn’t play a role in Morin’s death; the 17-year-old simply stepped out in front of an SUV. Even so, his grieving father is holding a petition drive Saturday at Lewis Memorial United Methodist Church to urge officials to drop the speed limit on Hereford Farm to a consistent 45 mph.
Currently, the road swaps back and forth between 45 and 55 mph; setting it at one reduced speed is entirely reasonable. Do it.
But in the end, it’s up to motorists to drive at safe speeds. Speed limit signs are useless without drivers’ cooperation.
When cooperation fails? Turn on the blue lights.
If you’re obeying the speed limit, you have nothing to worry about. If you aren’t? Here’s hoping that, at least temporarily, Columbia County deputies will make it a little more expensive for you to fly down that road.
Any road. Every road.
Rest in peace, Cory.
Run for Aimee
Thanks to friends and Facebook, I’ll participate Saturday in the Run for Aimee 5K while wearing a T-shirt and ball cap from the Shepeard Community Blood Center and the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation.
Both agencies have helped Aimee Copeland as she recovers at Doctors Hospital, and I’m honored to promote them.
The race field is full, but come out to Savannah Rapids Saturday morning to cheer the runners on, and to bid in the silent auctions.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/