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Highway 17: DOT reports 22 percent of vehicles speed in 45 mph zone

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

After a wreck on Highway 17 near Fresh Market killed a 74-year-old man in September, a contingent of Pawleys Island area residents have been calling for a reduction of the speed limit.

Most, like Barry Cox, want the limit to go from 45 miles per hour to 35. Others would like to see it even lower. Micky Stikas wants it set at 25, he said.

Based on a review of the speed limit conducted by the S.C. Department of Transportation’s traffic engineering office, none of them are likely to get their wish.

“It is felt that a motorist can safely and efficiently drive at 45 mph on this section of highway,” Dennis Townsend, district engineering administrator, told Cox in a recent letter. The letter was a response to one Cox wrote to the secretary of transportation in December.

Based on the study and conditions in the area, a reduction in the speed limit was not recommended. The Highway Patrol said speed wasn’t a factor in the fatal accident.

“If motorists are exceeding the speed limit, it is recommended that you notify the local law enforcement agency and request additional enforcement,” Townsend wrote.

A spot speed study performed on Highway 17 near the Hammock Shops showed 85 percent of motorists were traveling 46.5 mph, he added. Just over 22 percent were exceeding the speed limit. Time and date of the study aren’t specified.

“The department tries to set speed limit[s] that are realistic and functional,” Townsend said. “Speed limits set too low are often ignored unless strictly enforced, which then can create hardships on motorists. In addition, lower speed limits often lead to increased congestion and fuel consumption.”

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