Construction worker still in critical condition; DUI suspect remains in jail

A road construction worker is still in critical condition, as of Tuesday night, after being hit by a drunk driver while working on Highway 17 North.

The driver, Daniel Hamrick, admitted to drinking a pint of beer then getting behind the wheel. He faced a bond court judge Tuesday afternoon.  Hamrick has been convicted of DUI twice in the past.

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Road workers said accidents in construction zones are increasing.

"Two-thirds of people killed in work zones are actually motorists not workers," Earl Capps, of the U.S. Group, Inc., said

Capps said South Carolina is one of only 17 states that doesn't have double penalties for violations involving people driving recklessly in work zones.

He said if it did, he thinks there would be fewer wrecks.

Capps said he realizes it can be confusing for motorists driving through work zones with lane changes, barrier walls and cones.

But he said it's crucial that drivers pay attention and watch their speed.

During night-time construction on Highway 17, when crews are paving, the speed limit is only 25.

When crews are not paving, but it's still a construction zone, the speed limit is 45 miles per hour From the Ravenel Bridge to Bowman Road.  But it drops to 35 from the Isle of Palms Connector, continuing north.

Capps said he's seen many cases of careless driving on I-26.   In 2009, there were 800 wrecks in a three-mile stretch of the I-26 construction zone.

He said one-third of those accidents involved a driver hitting construction equipment or vehicles, putting drivers and workers, at risk.

"The reality is, the public is in as much harm as our guys are," Capps said.

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