Letters to the Editor

Letters: Want safer roads? Clear the trees

All of us have had distractions while driving — children needing assistance, spilled drinks, not paying attention, electronic devices. Even drivers who are doing everything exactly right are forced off the road by an irresponsible vehicle or circumstance beyond their control.

Nearly half of S.C. traffic deaths occur when drivers run off the road (“How spending too little on roads has cost hundreds of lives in S.C.,” Aug. 29). And in a fifth of those cases, the drivers die when they crash into a tree.

Regardless of what letter writer Jerry Emanuel says (“Don’t blame highway deaths on the trees,” Sept. 16), the fact is that the safest roads have clear zones or areas of recovery so motorists who make a mistake and run off the road don’t pay for it with their lives.

More than two-thirds of the land in South Carolina is forested. Most of the trees close to the roads are common pines and other insignificant woody vegetation. And as we were reminded when trees fell across so many roads during Hurricane Matthew, good clear zones would result in fewer closed roads, providing less inconvenience and more safety after a storm. Also, appropriate roadway clear zones would translate into fewer power lines being knocked down by falling trees, and a smaller number of homes losing power for long periods.

If we regard human life as precious, there is no reason to allow trees to facilitate death or injury.

Richard Jenkins