Between Jan. 1-Nov. 21, Hinesville had 1,049 traffic accidents that resulted in 310 injuries and three fatalities, Hinesville Police Cpl. Les Patton said.
The certified accident re-construction expert said two of the fatalities were pedestrians. Both victims were standing in the center, turn lane at night while wearing dark-colored clothing, he said. Alcohol was involved with one of the victims, he added.
He said the other fatality involved multi-vehicles in which speeding was a factor. Among the traffic accident injuries, Patton said several involved pedestrians. He said three were standing in center turn lanes, two were in crosswalks, three were crossing outside crosswalks and three were in parking lots. In most cases, he said, the pedestrian was crossing a busy road at night while wearing dark-colored clothing.
“Under good road conditions, if you’re travelling at 45 miles per hour, which equals 65.97 feet per second, by the time you see a danger and react to it, you’ll travel another 98.95 feet,” Patton said. “That’s a total of 195.37 feet. If the road conditions are not good, that total reaction distance will be 211.45 feet.”
To verify these figures, Patton said he conducted his own test. He asked several officers to look for him in his dark blue uniform standing on the side of a road at night as they drove toward him. The average distance the approaching officer saw him was 178 feet away — and the officer knew to look for Patton.
The officer would have hit him if he had been standing in the road, Patton said.
He said the officer would have had even more difficulty spotting him had the headlights of another driver been coming toward him. Stopping distances would have been longer if the roads had been wet, he added.
He said most people don’t realize that when travelling at twice that speed, it takes four times the distance to stop. This is one reason that speeding is a major factor in many accidents, he said.
Patton said other factors include not using crosswalks and not wearing light or reflective clothing. He said there is no particular age group most guilty of taking these risks. Young and old are just as likely to do something foolish. Patton advises pedestrians to be safe and reduce their risks by:
• Cross only in a designated crosswalk;
• Do not enter a street until all traffic has stopped;
• Wear light-colored clothing, a reflective vest or carry a flashlight;
• Never assume the driver can see you.
“Pedestrians are sometimes hit in large store parking lots because they’ll walk straight from the store into the path of a car,” Patton said. “They’re not looking for traffic in a parking lot ...”
Bicyclists need to remember that a bicycle is a vehicle too. They have to obey the same laws as other vehicles. Some cyclists are guilty of riding down the center turn lane at night wearing dark-colored clothing.”
Patton, who has been with HPD since 2000, is a retired military police officer. Since he came into civilian law enforcement, he said he has investigated 3,884 traffic accidents.