Different driving habits could change traffic trends

Gwyneth J. Saunders


Different driving habits could change traffic trends

Early morning commuters to Hilton Head are frequently backed up on Bluffton Parkway.

Commuters complain on Facebook, on Twitter and on the phone about heavy traffic in and around Bluffton and Hilton Head.

Every morning, people heading to the island often find themselves sitting in slow traffic and, when it comes to a halt, it is usually because of an accident.

There are two reasons for most of the traffic accidents in Bluffton, according to Bluffton Police Chief Joey Reynolds.

"The top two causes are failure to yield the right of way and following too closely to the car ahead," Reynolds said.

The South Carolina Driver's Manual, which is full of amusing yet informative illustrations, recommends a three- to four-second following distance between each car.

To measure that, the instructions say to visually mark when the vehicle in front of you passes a stationary object - such as a tree or street light. Count one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three. If you reach that mark before three, you are too close.

"Be patient. It is easy to become frustrated with other drivers and with traffic," Reynolds said. "If you drive during high peak hours, make sure you leave early in case you are stopped in traffic due to a collision. Don't weave in and out of lanes. Use common sense."

Drivers who frequently post about traffic on Facebook say that some days it's good but all it takes is one incident on the way to Hilton Head and even an hour's lead time can dissolve into being late for appointments or work.

When it comes to yielding the right of way, the DMV manual also says yield to "pedestrians, motor vehicles, bicyclists or anyone who has moved into an intersection before you." In the defensive driving section, it suggests that it is better to yield the right of way than to have an accident.

In addition to those two causes, other common behaviors that result in traffic accidents are speeding, distracted driving and driving too fast for conditions. Reynolds said speeding as well as impaired driving were the primary causes for the latest tragic fatalities, important facts for young drivers.

"No cell phones, no friends in the car that would act as a distraction, no radio," he advises parents. Tell them to "pay attention to everything around them. Follow the speed limit and educate kids on dangers and consequences of impaired driving," Reynolds said.

In addition, Reynolds suggested older drivers keep in the right lane unless passing another vehicle and limit driving at night since signs and buildings are harder to see.

Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.