Straight From the Top — Dr. Brian Carpenter
Two more car accidents have occurred where Pisgah Road intersects the foot of our driveway and the cross street, both this past Friday. Although no one was seriously injured, there were minor injuries to one of our students, who was treated by our fabulous school nurse, Ms. Witherspoon, prior to the arrival of EMS. When combined with previous accidents and everyone’s firsthand observations, it is easy to see that we have a problem, and it is not going to cure itself.
What are we doing about this?
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been in touch with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office requesting that they provide a patrol car out there during drop off and dismissal. As the FSCO doesn’t have the personnel to do this every day, of course, the school would need to pay an off-duty law enforcement officer to direct traffic. We are more than willing to do this, and we filed the required paperwork with the FCSO on September 13, but so far, there haven’t been any takers. We will continue pursuing this in the hopes that we may yet get assistance. What we are asking for is a police cruiser parked in the turn lane, with a law enforcement officer directing traffic.
Second, we believe additional signage and flashing school zone lights would be beneficial on Pisgah Road, matters that are decided by the South Carolina Department of Transportation. We are grateful to a local state representative, Mr. Robert Williams, for volunteering his assistance in initiating a request for assistance from the SCDOT. We are not, however, under any illusions that this alone will prevent all inattentive or discourteous driving. Many have personally had drivers in the right turn only lane at the foot of the driveway lurch out dangerously in front of the straight/left turn lane traffic without so much as a turn signal. Signage probably won’t deter such driving, but we think another option would: the presence of law enforcement issuing citations.
Third, yesterday the FCSO responded to an email from us renewing our request for assistance. In it, the FCSO cc’d both Florence PD and the state troopers. We have already responded to everyone by welcoming any assistance they can provide until we get a full time SRO later this year, and by giving them the names and mobile phone numbers of the key individuals on the Virtus Team who have responsibilities for campus safety; myself, Mr. David Pierce, Director of IT, Security and Facilities, and Ms. Jackee Johnston, Assistant Executive Director of Operations, Risk Management and Compliance. We were informed that Pisgah Road is within city limits, so we’re hopeful that Florence PD might be able to assist. The state troopers, of course, have jurisdiction, and did, in fact, respond to at least one of the crashes on Friday.
Finally, while some have suggested that we place a crossing guard at that location, we do not deem this feasible for at least three reasons:
- We don’t have a crosswalk lane because there is no foot traffic (nor is one needed).
- We’ve been told in the past that SCDOT prohibits us from directing traffic on Pisgah Road.
- Given that a previous accident involved a rollover, and that we have personally witnessed some vehicles on Pisgah traveling at high rates of speed, we deem it too dangerous for anyone who isn’t law enforcement to be in the street or even on school property near that intersection.
We will keep you posted on developments.
Privileged to serve,