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Eyes on the road
Authorities: Slow down, pay attention
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As traffic comes around the first curve from Hall County on Browns Bridge Road, there is a sudden sharp rise. - photo by Jim Dean
The recent rash of deaths on Forsyth County roads has public officials cautioning drivers to slow down and pay attention.

While the circumstances have varied, there’s been at least one fatal wreck per week this month, and five since May.

Forsyth County Sheriff’s Capt. Frank Huggins said it appears the common thread in each collision was “inattentiveness while driving.”

“There are so many things in vehicles now that can draw our attention away from the most important task, which is driving and paying attention while you’re operating a moving vehicle,” Huggins said.

Those distractions include programming global positioning systems, talking on cell phones and sending and receiving text messages. Huggins added that televisions and DVD players, though usually placed out of the driver’s view, can also be disruptive.

“You can certainly listen to it, that’s a distraction,” he said.

Huggins referred to collisions that occurred Saturday and May 4 as “preventable.”

In Saturday’s incident, a 49-year-old Forsyth County man died of injuries after his motorcycle collided with a sport utility vehicle making an illegal U-turn at Castleberry and Hutchinson roads.

The driver of the SUV, 25-year-old Marian J. Anwar, has been charged with second-degree vehicular homicide and making an improper left turn.

Four days earlier, a 20-year-old man was killed when his vehicle slid under an 18-wheeler stopped at a traffic light on Ga. 400 at Settendown Road in north Forsyth.

On June 10, a pick-up collided with a fuel tanker at Porter Lane and Hwy. 53 in northeastern Forsyth. The 62-year-old Alpharetta man driving the pick-up died in the wreck.

A 39-year-old man died June 3 when his car crossed the centerline and struck a large box truck on Atlanta Highway near Castleberry Road in south Forsyth.

In all three wrecks, authorities have not determined what led to the collision.

The first fatal wreck of the year occurred May 4 on Keith Bridge Road when a 72-year-old woman was killed after an SUV crossed the road and struck her vehicle head on.

The 18-year-old driver of the truck has been charged with second-degree vehicular homicide and failure to maintain lane. Authorities said rainy weather may have been a factor.

Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said bad weather is an additional challenge to other difficulties that may come up while driving.

“Concentration and alertness to your surroundings are keys to safe driving, especially during inclement weather,” he said. “Drivers are urged to insulate themselves from the distractions that can be so common today and focus their attention on the safe operation of vehicles and being prepared for any reaction necessary.”

In addition to distractions and bad weather, Browns Bridge Road and many other well-traveled Forsyth County corridors follow windy paths with limited sight distances and steep slopes.

Shawn Littleton, who owns Cottonwood Village on Dawsonville Highway, said the problem there is speed.

“Generally, it’s pretty bad,” he said. “It seems like there’s some kind of wreck along the stretch of road that we’re on from the bridge up to the new intersection, it seems like there’s some kind of wreck at least once a month. You’ve got to be careful.”

He said the speed limit on the road is 55 mph, but motorists on the road regularly top that.

“I think it’s just the fact it’s nice and straight and people like to go fast,” he said.

E-mail Julie Arrington at