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Heavy rains overnight wreak havoc with roads, morning commute could be dangerous

West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) – Heavy rains from Sunday into Monday morning have already caused problems on Lexington County’s roads. Given that the National Weather Service is predicting more rain throughout Monday, motorists who drive like it’s a normal morning may find themselves involved in a traffic tragedy.

Late Sunday night, one lane of I-20 between the 59 - 60 mile-marker had to be closed because of ponding water. That was dealt with as more secondary roads began to flood. In many low-lying areas, water is completely across roads and could easily cause motorists to lose control of their vehicles.

Drivers shouldn’t be surprised to find some roads barricaded or blocked with traffic cones as they drive today, especially if heavy rains continue as predicted. Areas that have a history of flooding, parts of Cayce & West Columbia closer to the river and some areas of Lexington like Corley Mill Road or smaller streets close to Twelve Mile Creek, may be closed or reduced to fewer lanes during this rain event.

Motorists shouldn’t think that once they get off feeder roads and onto the interstates, they are in the clear and can make up time. No matter the drainage systems in place, you can still easily run into ponding water, especially along the shoulders. Hitting these puddles at high speeds will pull a vehicle in the direction of the water and may cause a spin. One accident in this type of weather can cause a chain reaction that could damage multiple vehicles and seriously injure their occupants.

Lexington County’s dirt roads are what they are, for the most part unimproved. The Public Works Department works to keep them as free of washes and water as possible, but only so much can be done. They can’t grade mud and do their best to create runoffs where water will turn off the road until it soaks in at some point. Watch for ruts, deep puddles, and even some shoulders that have disappeared overnight as the heaviest rain fell. Dirt roads that slope downhill to pavement may also be a big issue this morning. If you’ve lived on a Lexington County dirt road for any length of time, you’ll know where the worst spots are.

What can you do? First, leave early if travelling today. Remember that even without any accidents, roads and interstates will be filled with travelers. Next, reduce your speed. This isn’t a normal day and motorists shouldn’t drive as such. A vehicle going slower is much easier to control if it hits an unexpected puddle. Third, pay attention! Let the phone ring, the text messages go, or use hands free Bluetooth devices if you must communicate while driving. Keep both hands on the wheel and concentrate on driving and nothing else during this weather. Increase your following distance, the space between you and the vehicle in front of you. This gives you more room to stop if you must do so quickly. Last but certainly not least, wear your seatbelt! It’s not just the law, it’s a good idea. Even if you are just running to the store a few miles down the road, wear it!

During weather like this, show patience. Everyone in every vehicle on the road is going somewhere they think is important. Don’t drive recklessly to maneuver around a slower vehicle because you left a little late. It’s just not worth it. Put on some music, have a little talk with Jesus, clear your mind, do whatever it is you do beside fume when stuck in traffic. Just know that someone somewhere loves you and wants to see you walk through that door after your drive today.

The SCDPS has some great tips for safe driving on their webpage. Take a few minutes to review it before you drive in bad weather. It can be found at https://scdps.sc.gov/schp/driving_tips.

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