Burke County authorities explain how they are working to make River Road safe


WAYNESBORO Ga. (WJBF) — Two people in Burke County are dead after a head-on crash. It happened on River Road. This is not the first time an accident has occurred there. Now, residents in the area are saying it’s time for law enforcement to do something about it.

Burke County is 835-square-miles, and at least 10 deputies patrol its roads. Burke County Sheriff’s Office’s Chief Deputy Lewis Blanchard says they can only pull over at least 15 cars while a few thousand others are leaving Plant Vogtle, all at once.

“Adding one officer around the clock to patrol River Road means adding four officers,” said Blanchard. “That means adding four patrol cars, and people aren’t coming up with that kind of money.”

In 2017, 12 people were killed on River Road; deputies issued 113 citations that year. So far, eight people have died this year. The Burke County Sheriff’s Office says they’ve issued three times as many citations, but Blanchard says it takes more than patrolling to curb accidents.

“Slow down, stop following the car in front of you too closely, and get off your cell phone,” explained Blanchard.

Chief Blanchard says his office also reaches out to Georgia State Patrol for assistance. BCSO also holds two-day safety meetings at Vogtle.

Blanchard says people online are working against the cause to make River Road safer by giving away the position of GSP and sheriff’s deputies monitoring the road.

“They’re warning that person who is trying to speed, and they’re actually giving advice to the person who might end up killing them one day,” said Blanchard. “So, the person who on one day is saying there is too much traffic enforcement on one website is on another website saying why isn’t the police doing enough.”

The next time you get behind the wheel, remember this message from the Chief Deputy: “If you lost a friend, then you know there is no excuse at all whatsoever to be not paying attention to what you’re doing while driving,” said Blanchard. “Don’t look to blame someone else. Look at what you can do to make your driving behavior better.”

Chief Blanchard adds the sheriff’s office places crashed cars in certain key locations to act as reminders for drivers. He says the next move is to get a full safety study from county commissioners.

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