Traffic Deaths Decrease Regionally but Rise Close to Home

By Scanlan, Dan | The Florida Times Union, July 26, 2008 | Go to article overview

Traffic Deaths Decrease Regionally but Rise Close to Home


Scanlan, Dan, The Florida Times Union


Byline: DAN SCANLAN

Traffic deaths in Mandarin and on the Southside are up from last year as of mid-year, despite the fact that overall city and regional fatalities decreased in the same period.

A police review of the Mandarin and Southside fatalities shows that at least 10 list alcohol or drugs as a contributing cause, with careless driving an additional cause for nine. And in almost half (47 percent) of fatalities, safety equipment such as seat belts or motorcycle helmets weren't in use by the victims.

Sgt. Bill Dobscha, the traffic unit supervisor for Zone 3, which covers Mandarin and the Southside, said Interstates 95 and 295, plus Florida 9A, run through the zone, and that leads to a lot of accidents. But it's how all these people are driving that adds to the problem.

"Careless driving or [being] under some kind of influence seems to be a factor. On top of that, it seems like people are in a rush, since the fatalities are happening at all times of the day," Dobscha said. "Throw in the fact that motorcyclists don't wear helmets and people don't wear seat belts, and that seems to be a common factor."

The number of traffic deaths in Northeast Florida has dropped in the first half of this year, with 103 reported in four metro counties, down from 155 in the same period a year ago, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. In Jacksonville, those numbers dropped from 89 to 66 deaths between the first half of 2007 and the same period this year, according to the Sheriff's Office. Twenty-one were killed in multi-vehicle accidents, while 22 died in single-vehicle crashes in the first half of this year. Nine were pedestrians, 12 were on motorcycles, and two were on bicycles. Twenty-six victims were not wearing seat belts, and eight motorcycle victims were not wearing helmets. Twenty-two of those 66 fatal accidents involved someone under the influence of alcohol or some other substance.

Zone 3, which runs from San Marco south to Julington Creek, had the highest number of fatalities for the first half of 2008, with 17, up from 15 for the same period in 2007. …

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