Hidden camera reveals breadth of traffic issues at Sangaree
By Stefanie Bainumsbainum@abcnews4.com
SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) - Morning after morning, the roads around Sangaree Elementary School and Sangaree Intermediate School have been plagued by commuters driving irresponsibly.
Days ago, another crossing guard came within just a few feet of being hit by one of those drivers.
An ABCNews4 crew spent several days outside the schools capturing what drivers were doing. The results were shocking and included drivers pulling off the road to park illegally, blocking sidewalks kids use to get to school each day and even one driver backing down a turn lane to get around traffic.
Crossing guard Elizabeth Taylor said she does everything she can to keep kids safe, but said that puts her at risk every morning. She said a driver ignored her stop sign on Feb. 8 and almost hit her.
Taylor said she would have been hurt if she had not jumped out of the way in time.
At the same intersection last year, crossing guard Natalie Boles was hit by a car and spent weeks in the hospital recovering from her injuries.
Parents are worried that a child could be next.
"If an adult got hit that you can see, a child is very small," said Tiffani McCullough. "It's very disconcerting."
ABCNews4 caught nearly a dozen driving offenses, so the video was passed along to the Berkeley County School District. Spokeswoman Amy Kovach was disappointed with what she saw.
"See right there. That is a parent making a choice to violate traffic safety laws on a road that is not on our property," she said.
The Department of Transportation was also unnerved by the video.
"I saw some impatient motorists and parking violations and it's a sign that's typically an enforcement issue, local law enforcement, parking restrictions in the area," said Mark Nesbit with the DOT. "Basically, I saw some impatient drivers."
The sheriff's office and the school district announced this week that they were beginning an increased safety program for the school zone.
Deputies said they will be pumping up their presence and ticketing at the Sangaree intersection "whenever resources are available."
Lt. Dunne was there Friday morning.
ABCNews4 pointed out a driver who was blocking a crosswalk and asked if he should get a ticket.
"Yes, he would possibly get a ticket for blocking the crosswalk," he said.
The measure is a hope that blue lights lead to more brake lights and parents step up safe driving.
"Please slow down. Please abide by the traffic safety laws. Please don't yell obscenities at our crossing guards. They are doing the best job they can for our children and our students and our schools," said Novack. "Please drive like your child lives here."
Some parents have questioned whether a traffic light needs to be installed at the intersection.
The district requested traffic studies from the DOT in 2005, 2008 and 2011. The DOT said there was not enough traffic in the area to warrant a light.
The incidents caught on tape were not on school property.
The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office has urged drivers in the Sangaree school zone who witness reckless driving to call the sheriff's office at 843-719-4412.
If possible, they ask that people get a vehicle tag and as much driver information as possible.