Police cracking down on U.S. 17 drivers

Rash of major, deadly accidents prompt increased police presence

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Several police agencies throughout Clay County are now focusing on U.S. Route 17 to cut down on traffic violators after a week which saw numerous and sometimes deadly crashes.

If you've driven on U.S. 17 anywhere between Orange Park and Green Cove Springs in recent days you've probably seen the large number of law enforcement agencies out on patrol as the Clay County Sheriff's Office along with the Green Cove Springs Police Department, Orange Park Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol are paying particular attention to the road's drivers.

"I think that's good, something that they do really need to pay attention to because me travelling that way a lot, I do see a lot of people trying to race to beat lights," Shamieka McDaniel, a frequent U.S. 17 driver said.

The emphasis comes after a couple in their 70s was killed in Fleming Island on election day, and three days later just a couple of miles down the road a 64-year-old man was critically injured.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said that accidents like these, and the increased police presence, needs to be a warning to drivers.

"They're just trying to get drivers attention in that area, letting them know that law enforcement is out here," Smith said.

Residents have been complaining that road improvements and upgrades need to be made to help with the problem and Smith said the department of transportation will need to determine whether U.S. 17 needs safety improvements, like increasing the yellow or amber light duration at traffic lights.

"If they get quite a few complaints the department of transportation will go out, they'll do a survey to see how long the amber light is, because the amber light's supposed to stay for a certain number of seconds depending on the speed limit on the road, and see if changes need to be made," Smith said.

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