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Editorial: Respect work zone safety

We didn’t expect a car to attempt to run us off the road for having the audacity to be a safe driver in a work zone, but apparently our slow speed struck the driver’s ire when we rode recently on U.S. 17 in Hardeeville.

Work’s been going on for months on U.S. 17, near the S.C. 315 intersection. Each morning there are workers near the road, several trucks and a lot of orange signs and traffic cones along the 1.5-mile stretch.

The highway is tight under normal conditions, but caution is especially needed during the hours of road work.

Signs indicate the speed limit is 45 mph. It’s not hard to slow down for a few seconds.

But we’ve witnessed many impatient drivers, including one who stalked our bumper as we drove north on U.S. 17.

The work zone was brightly marked, but the driver pushed close to our car as we drove toward the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.

Once we reached the clearing that splits into two lanes, the car quickly moved to pass us on the left. The vehicle was next to our car when it suddenly swerved to the right, coming within inches of our car, before speeding ahead.

Seriously?

We maintained control of our car, but were stunned by the childish behavior.

Work zone safety is not a joke.

In March, two S.C. Department of Transportation workers were struck and killed in Aiken County.

According to the SCDOT, there have been 35 incidents involving workers being killed on the job. Six have been killed since 2007.

Overall, S.C. Department of Public Safety preliminary statistics show statewide in 2016 there were 1,546 work zone collisions resulting in 628 injuries and 11 fatalities.

Last week a bill (House Bill 4033) was introduced in Columbia that would increase fines and toughen penalties for reckless driving in work zones. Proposed fines range from $500 to $5,000 and could include jail time, including up to 10 years in jail for a fatal collision.

We all want to arrive at our destination as soon as we can, but our urgency shouldn’t come at the risk of endangering other lives.

Respect the road. Respect the workers.

Slow down.

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