Let’s make Jacksonville roads safer

Jennifer Ronzon, Reporter

Last week, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office shared a photo on their Facebook page that read, “Duval Traffic Truth: In Jacksonville you are more likely to die in a traffic crash than be murdered.” People quickly found humor in the blunt comparison, causing it to go viral on Jacksonville social media accounts. All jokes aside, their post was true- but it does not have to be. Through bringing awareness to this issue in our community, and teaching safety provisions, our city can become a safer place.

Image courtesy of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office via Facebook.

Year after year, Jacksonville falls into the ranks of the worst cities for pedestrian and roadway safety. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2020 there were 180 fatalities from car crashes in Duval County alone.

As we enter the new year there have already been 486 reported crashes in Duval County in 2021 according to the FHSMV crash dashboard. Those accidents have caused 267 injuries and three deaths.  

To better protect yourself and those around you, you must first understand your role as a driver, biker, or pedestrian.

As a pedestrian, you must pay attention to your environment. While walking seems more relaxed, you must still follow the rules of the road. This includes stopping at stop signs, traffic lights, and crossing the street in designated crosswalks. Walking out into the road, or jaywalking, without first looking both ways for oncoming vehicles, can create a dangerous situation for you and those around you.

If you are on a bike, make sure your bike has working lights and reflectors. Under Florida law, if you are operating a bicycle between sunset and sunrise the bicycle must have a white light on the front visible from at least 500 feet away, a red light on the rear visible from at least 600 feet away, and a red reflector on the rear visible from at least 600 feet away. This ensures that you give surrounding drivers ample time to see you to prevent any collisions.

As a driver, it is your responsibility to follow all the rules of the road. This especially includes paying attention. With the popularity of cell phones, and other portable tech devices, came an uptick in distracted driving. According to the Federal Communications Committee, a National Occupant Protection Use Survey reported that cell phone use while driving is highest among 16–24-year-old drivers. While glancing away from the road for seconds may seem like no big deal, it is more than enough time for an accident to occur.

To avoid any temptation to check your phone while driving, make sure everything is set up prior to hitting the road. If you need directions to your destination, put the address in your GPS prior to your trip and set your device so the directions are read to you. Set up a playlist instead of searching for music while you drive. Put your phone face down so you are not looking at any notifications. If you are easily distracted, remove the distractions.

Everyone needs to do their part to make Jacksonville safer.


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