Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

Published on:

Since 1976, Florida law has required that all vehicle owners purchase personal injury protection insurance coverage.  Personal injury protection (commonly called “PIP”) coverage provides medical and lost wage benefits for people injured in car accidents.  PIP coverage, also referred to a “no-fault” coverage, applies to injuries suffered by the vehicle owner and occupants in the vehicle regardless of fault.  In other words, your own auto insurer pays for up to $10,000.00 for your medical expenses and lost wages even if another driver was at fault for causing the car accident.

By requiring these benefits, Florida’s PIP statute prevents injured persons from seeking reimbursement for pain and suffering unless the person suffered a permanent injury, the loss of an “important bodily function,” significant scarring, or death.  In other words, if you suffered injuries in a car accident but eventually returned to normal, an at fault driver and his or her auto insurance company are only obligated to pay any unpaid medical bills or lost wages.

Concerns have arisen that PIP has provided fertile ground for insurance fraud by medical providers and unscrupulous accident “victims” charging for unnecessary medical care.  The cost for PIP coverage, which can duplicate health insurance benefits that most Floridians now have, was also a concern.

During Florida’s most recent legislative session, House Bill 461 was introduced to repeal and replace Florida’s PIP law.  Instead of requiring PIP coverage, the bill, if enacted as law, would require that every vehicle owner carry bodily injury coverage of $25,000.00 per person and $50,000.00 in aggregate bodily injury coverage if two or more persons are injured.  Currently, Florida law does not require that vehicle owners carry any bodily injury coverage at all.  It was estimated that, if enacted, repealing PIP would save Florida car owners approximately $80.00 annually.

Florida personal injury car accident lawyers are mixed on the idea.  The existing PIP framework allows for injured persons to have their medical expenses and lost wages paid.  This makes it easier for them to obtain medical care, especially for those who do not have health insurance.  Also, medical bills paid by PIP do not have to be paid back to the client’s auto insurer if the client receives a financial recovery from the at-fault driver’s insurer.

On the other hand, people who have suffered serious injuries sometimes lose their case because a jury does not agree that the person has suffered a permanent injury.  This most commonly arises with injuries to intervertebral discs. Spinal discs tend to degenerate over time and can be likened to brake pads that eventually wear out.  Some people who have never suffered an  accident or any trauma of significance have herniated or bulging discs.  Because of this, the presence of a herniated or bulging disc identified on an MRI is not the same as an x-ray that shows a person suffered a broken bone in an accident.

Insurers hire doctors of their own choosing who routinely testify that herniated or bulging discs were not caused by an accident. Unfortunately, the car insurers do this in almost every disc injury case even if the injured person never previously suffered from neck or back pain in their entire life prior to the car accident.

The result can be very unfair.  A jury may very well check the “no” box on the verdict form indicating a legitimately injured claimant suffered no permanent injury, which then results in a loss and subjects that person to a judgment for the insurer’s significant court costs.

If PIP is repealed, the “permanency” threshold will not apply, and jurors will simply award the amount of compensation to which a person is entitled, assuming the jury finds the other driver to be at fault for causing the accident.

For the time being, Florida’s PIP laws will remain in place as the House bill died during the legislative session as the Senate failed to vote on it before the session ended.  Similar bills will certainly be proposed in the future.  Continue reading

Published on:

You’re driving down the road and someone cuts you off. You’re understandably mad, so you might yell and wave your fist. But that’s not always where it stops. For many drivers, emotions continue to escalate.

Nationally, incidents of road rage are on the rise.  A recent study from AAA shows 80 percent of drivers admit to expressing significant aggression, anger or road rage in the past year. The same study shows that men are more likely than women to express aggression on the road and that 56 percent of fatal accidents involve at least one form of aggressive driving.

Road rage behavior includes tailgating, blocking and cutting off other drivers and repeated horn honking. All of these can lead to car accidents, injuries and even death.

Earlier this year in Jacksonville, a trucker from New Jersey was shot and killed by another truck driver due to road rage resulting from an earlier traffic confrontation.

Truckers often warn passenger vehicle drivers about the dangers of cutting them off because they simply cannot stop in time to avoid a collision. Not only are they extremely heavy and hard to stop, hitting the brakes hard causes the braking system to dysfunction and can shift the truck’s load out of balance.

Car accidents caused by road rage are not uncommon in Jacksonville, especially since many roadways are congested due to what seems like never-ending construction. Whether you are on the giving or receiving end of road rage, here a few tips to keep you safe:

  • Move over is someone is tailgating you and travel in the right lane if you are driving slower than other traffic.
  • Never engage with someone who has yelled or gestured at you. Most of the time, the person who is angry is not thinking rationally, so trying to engage with them won’t work out well.
  • Use an “I’m sorry” gesture if you accidentally do something offensive to another driver.
  • If an angry driver is following you, don’t pull over and don’t drive home. Instead, call 911 and drive to a fire or police station, or public place like a shopping mall for help.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. Running late causes anxiety and impatience.
  • Listen to soothing music and relax your shoulders when driving.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the woman trying to get over to the far right lane is rushing a child to the emergency room.
  • Be mindful of other drivers and always use your turn signal.
  • Lay off the horn. Excessive honking stresses drivers.
  • Don’t be distracted by anything. Checking your phone, putting on makeup, texting, even eating, don’t mix well with driving.
  • Don’t tailgate. Follow at a safe distance – allow 10 feet for every 10 mph you are traveling. So if you are going 60 mph, there should be 60 feet between you and car ahead.
  • If you you notice dangerous or aggressive driving, have a passenger write down the license plate number, date, time, and road you are on and contact the Florida Highway Patrol by dialing *FHP. The best people to handle bad drivers are law enforcement professionals

Written by Elizabeth Allen. Continue reading

Published on:

When a vehicle breaks down or runs of gas in a lane of traffic, especially on an interstate or expressway, the effects can be devastating.  Just today, a man from Orange Park died when his vehicle was struck from behind by an 18 wheeler on Interstate 95 in Flagler County near Palm Coast. The accident happened in the early morning hours and the car may not have had its lights on.  The reason for the car being stopped on the interstate is not currently known.

Our attorneys have handled numerous serious injury cases resulting from an accident with a vehicle broken down on an interstate or expressway.  Vehicle owners who fail to properly maintain their vehicles or who run out of gas will be responsible for personal injuries or wrongful death that results from an accident.  It is also necessary that the operator of the car or truck remove it from lanes of traffic as soon as possible. Commercial trucks, including tractor trailers, are also required to put out traffic cones so as to warn oncoming drivers of the lane obstruction ahead.

Our lawyers handled a case where a man suffered serious personal injuries after colliding with a moving truck broken down in the outside lane of I-95 in Nassau County, just north of the Duval County line.  The moving truck was broken down for hours before the collision occurred.  The insurer for the moving company tried to blame our injured client by claiming that he should have seen the truck and avoided it like so many other drivers did in the hours that the truck was obstructing I-95.

We were able to prevail by demonstrating that the truck failed to properly put out required warning signs and failed to have the truck removed in a timely fashion.  Also, the claim that our client was negligent was not credible due to the fact that the accident happened shortly after dark, during rush hour, and occurred just after our client changed from the middle lane to the outside lane immediately prior to the location of the truck, preventing him from being able to see it in time to react.

We also recently made a recovery for all of the available insurance coverage limits (both bodily injury and uninsured motorist coverages) for a woman who suffered serious spinal disc injuries when the car in which she was a passenger struck a vehicle broken down on the Dames Point Bridge.

Surprisingly, the car in which our client was riding had dash cam footage of the accident.  The footage showed the other car stopped in the outside lane.  As the Dames Point Bridge has no emergency lane, the broken down vehicle was obstructing more than half of the lane.  The owner of that car placed a cooler in the road to warn oncoming drivers; however, the cooler was only a few yards from the car, providing very little notice.

The driver of the car our client was in failed to observe the other car in the interstate and drove straight into it without braking our changing lanes.  With the dash cam, it was clear that that driver had several seconds to react before the collision.  As a result both the driver of the car our client was in and the driver of the broken down car were responsible for causing the accident. Continue reading

Published on:

Interstate 95 which runs through the length of Jacksonville’s Duval County and goes directly through downtown, is the country’s fifth deadliest interstate according to Everquote Auto Insurance Company.  Everquote compiled data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

I-95 had nearly one death per mile during the five year period of 2010 to 2015.  To put that in perspective, I-95 traverses approximately 30 miles in Duval County – meaning there were nearly 30 deaths on this stretch of interstate during the five year period.

Interstate 10, the eastern end of which begins in Jacksonville, was ranked the seventh most deadly with .85 deaths per mile.  Interstate 4, which runs from Tampa to Daytona, is Florida’s deadliest interstate with an astonishing 1.4 deaths per mile. I-4 is our nation’s fourth deadliest interstate.

The U.S. Department of Transportation also reports a greater than 10% increase in traffic deaths from January 1, 2016, compared to the same six months of 2015.  This may be an anomaly, it may result from an increase of vehicles on the road due to a sharp decrease in gas prices, or it may be due to an increase in distracted driving.  No matter what the cause, we should experience a decrease in collisions over time, not an increase.

What is worse is that 2015 brought the highest increase in traffic fatalities in fifty years according to the National Safety Council.  More than 38,000 people were killed in vehicle accidents in 2015 and another 4 million people required medical care for injuries.  Furthermore, 2014 showed an 8% increase over 2013.  Even though more miles are being driven in the years since the recession that began in 2008, the rate of fatal accidents has outpaced the increase in total miles driven.  The exact cause is not known; however, we suspect that texting, tweeting and using Facebook while driving have played a significant role.

We certainly seem to see more drivers than ever on their cell phones while driving at highway speeds. Whenever I notice someone using their phone while driving (typing, not talking), I take measures to make sure that person does not end up behind me.  Texters often fail to appreciate slowing traffic in time and frequently cause rear-end collisions.

Because interstates involve much higher speeds than local roads, the chances of suffering severe injury or death in a collision are higher than accidents that occur on local roadways.  Further complicating things is that the downtown Jacksonville portion of I-95 has been under constant construction for over ten years now.  Construction causes abrupt lane changes, sudden stops and confusion to motorists, all of which contribute to the chances an accident will occur. Continue reading

Published on:

In January, a twenty-nine year old driver caused a fatal accident driving the wrong way on Interstate 295 near the intersection with Interstate 95 here in Jacksonville.  The car crash happened at 4:00 a.m.  Sadly, a sixty-nine year old military veteran and grandfather died as a result of the accident.  The wrong way driver was also critically injured in the crash.

Hours after the accident, the blood alcohol level of the wrong way driver was .117 – well above Florida’s .08 maximum blood alcohol level.  Given that alcohol in the blood dissipates at the rate of approximately .015% per hour, a two hour delay between the accident and blood testing would put the driver’s blood alcohol level at .147, nearly twice the legal limit.  The wrong way driver was not arrested for driving under the influence/manslaughter until last week – six months after the collision.

 

Wrong way car accidents are much more common than many people think. During 2015, there were 1490 wrong way crashes in Florida alone – more than four per day.  Because wrong way car accidents typically cause head-on collisions, the injuries that result are often tragic. This is illustrated by the 96 fatalities and 1454 injuries that resulted from 2015’s 1490 crashes. In more than two-thirds of wrong way car accidents, the driver was either injured or killed.

Whenever I hear of a wrong way accident, I tend to assume the driver going the wrong way was intoxicated; however, the statistics do not support this presumption.  With respect to Florida’s wrong way collisions in 2015, fifty-one percent of the at-fault drivers were not intoxicated at the time of the crash.

There are things you can do to minimize your chances of being involved in a wrong way car accident.  According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, interstate and freeway drivers should stay in the right lane, especially at night, to avoid the chances of being struck by a wrong way driver.  According to the Department, most fatal wrong way accidents take place in the left or center lane.

Of course, it is also very important to take steps to ensure you do not enter an expressway going the wrong way. As referenced above, many wrong way drivers were not intoxicated.   To prevent such mistakes it is important to: avoid driving while drowsy; avoid distractions, such a cellphones, while driving; and not driving after dark if your night vision is impaired.

In addition, Florida’s Department of Transportation is implementing new measures in an effort to reduce wrong way accidents.  FDOT is installing additional signage at expressway exit ramps warning drivers that they are proceeding in the wrong direction.  FDOT is also installing flashing lights at exit ramps and using radar to detect wrong way drivers headed up exit ramps. When the radar detects a wrong way driver, emergency alert signage warns others drivers to be on the look out for the wrong way vehicle.

Continue reading

Published on:

The greater Jacksonville area has had a rash of tragic motorcycle accidents causing fatalities during the last ten days.  Four of these accidents involved a vehicle that failed to yield to the motorcyclist when making a left turn.  In at least two of these motorcycle accidents, the person operating the motorcycle was not wearing a helmet.  Four of the accidents happened in Duval County, one in Flagler County and two in Clay County.

Left turn accidents are the second most common type of accident our lawyers encounter, with rear-end collisions being the most common.  Left turn accidents are especially tragic for motorcyclists who typically hit the turning car head-on. Further compounding the problem is that motorcycles, with their much smaller profile, are harder to see than larger vehicles.  With texting and the other driver distractions that are so common these days, the failure to appreciate that a motorcycle is approaching becomes all the more likely.

Most motorcyclists are trained to drive defensively and to be on the lookout for drivers that do not see them; however, drivers turning left across their path of travel often offer no opportunity to avoid impact.

Defensive driving tactics for motorcyclists include:

– wearing a helmet;

– having a working headlight on at all times;

– operating within the speed limit;

– not driving in the blind spots of other vehicles;

– not sharing a single lane with other motorcyclists;

– riding a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you; and

– watching for drivers trying to turn left across your path of travel, especially when their light is yellow;

– leaving yourself an “out” in case something unexpected happens;

– never drive when drowsy, under the effects of medication, alcohol or illegal substances; and

– take a motorcycle driving course.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2013, motorcyclists were twenty-six times more likely to die in an accident than occupants of four wheeled vehicles.  Motorcyclists account for approximately fourteen percent of traffic deaths despite representing only a tiny fraction of the number of vehicles on the road.

Florida law requires that motorcycle operators under the age of twenty-one wear helmets.  Operators who are at least twenty-one years of age are required to carry at least $10,000.00 in insurance to cover them for injuries they might suffer.  This law is designed to ease the burden on the state and public to pay for the increased injuries that can result from the failure to wear a helmet.

Florida law also requires that drivers under the age of twenty-one must take a course in motorcycle operation.  Drivers twenty-one and over can take a skills test instead of taking the course.

 

Continue reading

Published on:

Jacksonville has an alarmingly high number of driving under the influence convictions.  Using 2011 as an example, Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles provides there were 33,625 driving under the influence convictions in the state. The Jacksonville area had the third highest number of DUI convictions – 2,222. Only the Tampa area and Miami-Dade had more convictions, with 3,256 and 2,274 respectively.

Factoring in the much larger populations in those cities, it appears Jacksonville has the highest per capita DUI convictions of all large cities in the state.   Whether this means we have the highest number of drunk drivers on our roads or whether Jacksonville’s police and state attorneys are simply doing a better job is impossible to know.

This problem is reflected in our news nearly every week. For example, recently, a 21-year-old Jacksonville man was charged with the death of his friend in a crash on Loretto Road in the Mandarin area of Jacksonville. Police say the man was exceeding the speed limit and traveling at 47 to 60 mph in a 30-mph zone on a curve. Wet weather conditions added to the danger.

The car left the roadway and struck a tree.  The 22-year-old passenger was ejected and killed and the driver broke an arm and suffered other injuries. Police reported there were containers of alcohol at the scene and said the driver showed signs of impairment and smelled of alcohol. At first, the man admitted he was the driver but later claimed he was not, investigators said.

The driver has been charged charged with vehicular homicide, DUI-manslaughter, and knowingly operating a vehicle with a suspended license. We can only imagine that the grief, remorse and guilt will dwarf this young man’s criminal consequences, no matter how severe they may be.

The driver’s blood alcohol content tested at .23, according to the arrest report. The legal limit to drive in Florida is .08.  Intoxication at the level of .23 is associated with a laundry list of deficits including: nausea; blackout; emotional swings; severe motor skill impairment; drastically reduced reaction times; stupor; and loss of consciousness.

A host of laws have been enacted in the state in an effort to reduce drunk driving.  Despite these measures, the problem continues.  Years ago, the legal limit was reduced from .10 to .08.  In addition, fines and sentences have increased dramatically.   Due to public pressure, state attorneys are much less likely to agree to a plea arrangement that does not include a conviction for DUI.

Florida law mandates that any driver convicted of a second DUI must have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle.  The interlock prevents the car from being started unless the driver successfully blows a breathalizer connected to the engine’s ignition system.  A judge may order an interlock installed on a first conviction depending on the circumstances.  Perhaps this law be changed to include all first convictions.

Florida also has a “zero tolerance” policy for drivers under 21 who drink alcohol and get behind the wheel. Any driver under 21 who is stopped by police and has a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher will automatically face the suspension of their drivers’ license for six months.

In addition to criminal consequences, drunk drivers face civil liability for wrongful death or injuries.  Unlike other debts, claims for injuries or death caused by drunk driving are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

 

Continue reading

Published on:

When we think of the dangers facing police officers, most of us think of violent or deadly confrontations with criminal suspects.  However, car accidents present the highest risk of injury or death to police officers.

In a recent incident, a Jacksonville police officer who was sitting in his car preparing an accident report was injured when his patrol vehicle was hit from behind on Interstate 295 between New Kings Road and Dunn Avenue.

The patrol car was hit while it was out of the lanes of traffic in the right emergency lane.  The driver apparently lost control and crashed into the rear of the patrol car as the officer was on a call for a single car crash with injuries. The vehicle that hit the patrol car bounced into the left barrier wall and ended up in the center of the interstate.

The police officer was taken to the Shands – UF Jacksonville hospital for treatment of his personal injuries. The driver that struck the patrol car suffered minor injuries and was  treated at the accident scene. Police are investigating whether there were any other factors that caused this accident.

Police officers and other emergency workers face daily dangers on the roads of Florida. That’s why the state enacted a “Move Over” law that is intended to protect first responders such as police, fire and ambulance crews

The “Move Over” law requires drivers to change lanes if possible to provide additional space between the officer and traffic.  For single lane roadways or in circumstances where changing lanes is not possible, drivers must reduce their speed to 20 miles-per-hour below the speed limit. If you are on a road where the speed limit is 20 mph or less, you are required to slow down to 5 mph.

The “Move Over” law was enacted to protect law enforcement and emergency workers from being hit by vehicles passing them at high speed. Drivers who are not in the lane closest to the stopped emergency vehicle with flashing lights should be prepared to allow other drivers to move over. We often think of laws like this as applying only to police officers or ambulance and fire officers, but it also applies to tow trucks with yellow flashing lights or other vehicles that may be stopped at the side of the road such as sanitation trucks.

If you fail to move over in compliance with the law, you are subject to being issued a ticket. You may receive 3 points on your license, and have to pay a fine. More importantly you will be putting the lives of emergency workers in danger and could be sued for injuries or fatalities that your actions cause.

Florida’s “Move Over” law at a Glance

When Driving on Multi-Lane Roads:

  • Drivers must move from the lane closest to the stationary emergency vehicle, tow truck, sanitation, or utility vehicle.
  • Drivers are required to slow down to a speed of 20 mph below the posted speed limit if they cannot move over safely.
  • Drivers who are not in the lane closest to the stationary vehicle should be prepared to allow those who are to move over into their lane

On Roadways with Only One Lane in Each Direction:

  • Drivers must slow down to a speed of 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
  • If the speed limit is 20 mph or less, drivers must travel at 5 mph

Written by David Macaulay

Continue reading

Published on:

Distracted driving has been highlighted by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles as the number one cause of accidents in the state and a more serious threat for causing injuries than drunk driving.  While Florida has a ban on texting while driving, a number of our legislators don’t believe it goes far enough in reducing distracted driving.

Florida’s texting-while-driving ban would be strengthened under a proposal filed this month by Sen. Thad Altman, from Rockledge, for the 2016 legislative session. His bill (SB 328) would ensure texting while driving is a “primary” offense – meaning police could pull over motorists who violate the ban without having any other reason to stop the driver.

Currently, as a “secondary” offense, drivers can only be cited for texting while driving if they are stopped for other reasons such as driving erratically or a headlight being out.

Another bill that was filed in August by Rep. Richard Stark, from Weston, would bring in stiffer penalties for motorists who text while driving in school zones or at school crossings. Stark’s bill seeks to double fines for drivers who violate the texting-while-driving ban in the designated school areas.

Although texting while driving is a primary offense in many states, previous attempts to strengthen the law have failed in Florida.  A number of other measures to crack down on cellphone use while driving have been submitted to the legislature but have also failed to be enacted into law.

Earlier this year, Rep. Mia Jones, from Jacksonville, and Sen. Audrey Gibson also from Jacksonville, submitted bills to completely outlaw cellphone use while driving, not just the text messaging banned under the current statute. The bills were unsuccessful. More than half a dozen bills have been introduced to combat distracted driving in Florida.

Local law enforcement officials and activists support the strengthening of the Florida’s distracted driving laws and building off the previous statute.

”We’ve allowed this to happen as a society. We’ve cracked down on drinking and driving, impaired driving, but we haven’t done anything about distracted driving,” said Jay Anderson, executive director and president of Stay Alive…Just Drive!  a distracted driving awareness group.

Florida lags behind many other states in the crackdown on texting at the wheel.  When the legislature passed the “Ban on Texting While Driving” law, Florida was the 41st state to outlaw text messages at the wheel.

The statute made it a secondary offense to use a cellphone to send or read a text message. As well as the concerns about it being a secondary offense, the law also only restricts texting while driving, not if a driver is stopped at traffic lights. Drivers can also be distracted by cellphones for everything from playing music to surfing social media sites to GPS navigation

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 14 states along with Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws.

While no states have a blanket ban on cell phone use for all drivers, 38 states and Washington D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states and D.C. prohibit it for school bus drivers. Federal laws prevent truckers from using hand held cell phones. All but five of the 46 states that have banned texting while driving have a primary enforcement law.

Earlier this year, Jacksonville Mayor, Alvin Brown, signed a proclamation declaring April 3, 2015, as “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” Day. He asked all residents to help spread awareness against the dangers of texting while driving by signing a new pledge to end distracted driving. He issued new executive orders to promote best safety practices among city employees.

“We want our roads to be safe for everyone in our community,” said Mayor Brown. “Distracted drivers threaten not only their own safety, but also the safety of others. That’s why the city is leading by example, improving our driver certification process and bringing in outside experts to ensure that the welfare of our citizens and property is protected.”

Continue reading

Published on:

As reflected in some of our prior blogs, Jacksonville has some of the least pedestrian and bicycle friendly roadways in the nation and few of them are as deadly as the Arlington Expressway.

Recently, it has been announced that there are plans to make the Arlington Expressway safer for pedestrians and cyclists.  If the improvement happens, it won’t come a moment too soon. The expressway was built in 1953 and is vital to linking downtown with Arlington and the Jacksonville Beaches.

More than half a century ago, urban planners focused little towards pedestrians, and roadways were designed primarily with the interests of motorists in mind. That lack of vision has led the expressway to become a very concerning danger in recent years.  One of the main problems is that pedestrians have very few access points to safely cross the expressway.

From May 2010 to May 2015, as many as 100 car accidents per year were reported on the expressway, including three fatalities. During those five years, no fewer than 14 pedestrians were hit, including 10 on service roads for the expressway.

“I would sit here when I’m walking around patrolling, and I watch people with toddlers or whatever crawl between the fence and the pole and dodge traffic to get across,” Bucky Carver, who lives and works near the expressway. The road is so hazardous that officials have sought ways of keeping pedestrians away from part of the expressway that runs from University Boulevard down to Mill Creek Road, the area near the Regency Square Mall. Fences have proven to be of marginal benefit.

However, a preliminary study by the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization suggests an alternative plan that would entail a redesign of the expressway in which new bike lanes, sidewalks and other pedestrian friendly areas would be created on both sides of the highway.

The corridor study provides that Jacksonville’s first suburban freeway fails to meet today’s engineering standards as sidewalks are limited and there are few crosswalks. Moreover, the expressway divides communities and people want to be able to cross between them. The existence of as many as 65 vacant or under-utilized parcels of land gives space for features that could make the road safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The plan illustrates alternatives.  Alternative 1 calls for a six-lane highway with a 7-foot bike lane and an 8-foot sidewalk behind trees. Alternative 2 provides for three 12-foot traffic lanes and a 7-foot bike lane with sidewalks along the edge.

The regeneration of the area around the highway presents a number of distinct issues. One of them is the large number of boarded-up buildings where businesses have failed.  The expressway splits the area in two, and some planner think a new expressway would bring both sides together and would make businesses more profitable.

It would cost about $50 million to implement the changes referenced in the report, and it would take state and city approval before the construction can begin. Officials are yet to identify a funding source, but the study said improving the area could have a $178 million positive impact on local commerce.

Jacksonville is not a pedestrian or bicycle friendly city. In 2010, about 200 bicyclists or pedestrians were injured in motor vehicle accidents. This makes our city the third-most dangerous city in the United States for bicyclists and pedestrians. Arlington Expressway is typical of a roadway that lacks designated bike lanes and pedestrian features. Often bicyclists must ride on a sidewalk, which can lead to accidents. Many sidewalks are uneven or nonexistent and do not have curb cuts allowing for safe access on and off the sidewalk at intersections.  Continue reading