JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the more than 700,000 licensed drivers in Duval County, the daily commute to work or school, or just a short trip down the road, carries the risk of an automobile accident. To help keep the region’s drivers safe, the I-TEAM wanted to know which intersections in the city, and the surrounding counties, were the most dangerous.
News4Jax requested traffic crash data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for 2016, the most recent complete year available, bringing together reports filed by any law enforcement agency. The I-TEAM spent weeks analyzing the data to find out where the most crashes were happening.
According to the I-TEAM analysis, the most dangerous intersection in Jacksonville was Beach Boulevard at St. Johns Bluff Road, with 39 crashes at the intersection.
“People are crazy around here,” said driver Sandy McLackin. “They go through this light really fast sometimes, they don’t watch what they are doing, it’s a crazy intersection.” McLackin believes the intersection’s proximity to I-295, coupled with traffic on Beach Boulevard, contributes to the level of danger.
News4JAX found several other crash hotspots along Beach Boulevard, at intersections with Southside Boulevard, University Boulevard and Hodges Boulevard The common denominator is that each spot is in a fast-growing area, with everything from construction to new housing to new shopping.
METHODOLOGY: How the I-TEAM analyzed the data
INTERACTIVE MAP: Explore dangerous intersections in your neighborhood
The rest of the top spots for crashes in Duval County were concentrated in two areas: the Southside and the Westside. On the Southside, the intersections of Baymeadows Road at Philips Highway, Atlantic at Hodges boulevards, Atlantic at Southside boulevards, Philips Highway at University Boulevard and Philips Highway at Emerson Street were among the worst in the city.
On the Westside, it was the intersections of Cecil Commerce Parkway with Argyle Forest Boulevard and Oakleaf Plantation Parkway, plus 103rd Street at Old Middleburg Road, Blanding Boulevard at Youngerman Circle and Blanding Boulevard at Collins Road.
As some of Jacksonville’s most dangerous intersections are along Blanding Boulevard, so are many of Clay County’s worst intersections. The intersection of Blanding Boulevard and Wells Road, near the Orange Park Mall, was at the top of the list, with 63 crashes in 2016.
Blanding’s intersections with Arora Boulevard, Blairmore Boulevard, Kingsley Ave., and College Drive, as well as with County Road 218 in Middleburg, were also among the worst in Clay County.
The I-TEAM found that the intersection of County Road 220 and Town Center Parkway in Fleming Island was also one of the most dangerous in the county.
St. Johns County
In St. Johns County, the News4JAX analysis revealed that the intersection of U.S. 1 and State Road 312 was the most dangerous in the county. Those on the roads there offered several theories as to why there were so many wrecks.
“There’s traffic backed up, the cars are always sticking out here, and no one follows the lights like they should,” said Jordan Sewell.
When the I-TEAM visited the intersection, we could see drivers making a left turn got stranded in the middle of the intersection, possibly as the result of improperly timed traffic signals.
Not far from this intersection, Old Moultrie Road at State Road 312 was also among the worst in St. Johns County. Other top intersections for crashes include State Road 16’s intersections with U.S. 1 and Outlet Mall Boulevard, the intersection of U.S. 1 and King Street, and Race Track Road’s intersections with State Road 13 and U.S. 1.
Making intersections safer
The I-TEAM took its findings to the Florida Department of Transportation to find out about changes that could be made to reduce the frequency of crashes.
“We have ongoing reviews, traffic studies, all the time,” said Ron Tittle, FDOT spokesman.
Tittle specifically said the intersection of Beach Boulevard and University Boulevard was one the department had examined. He explained that the reviews can result in new signals, rapid flashing beacons, or changes to traffic patterns.
Tittle added that while the state is always trying to make the roads safer, it’s also up to those behind the wheel.
“It boils down to individual responsibility also,” Tittle said.
How we analyzed the data
The I-TEAM obtained statewide crash data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for all of 2016, the most recent year for which the entire data set was available. The crash data includes hundreds of attributes about each crash, covering the circumstances, vehicles, drivers, passengers and non-motorists involved in each wreck. News4Jax narrowed the data down to crashes in northeast Florida, and then to crashes that were indicated as being in an intersection.
Road names can appear in the crash data in a multitude of ways, due to reasons including misspellings and alternate names, such as U.S. 90 for Beach Boulevard The I-TEAM refined the data to account for these issues, then created street name pairs to identify the intersections with the most crashes. Crashes that were listed as being more than 500 feet from the intersection, or as having taken place in a parking lot, were excluded from the final analysis.
The I-TEAM also sought to map the crashes, to identify clusters at intersections. While some crash data came with latitude and longitude, others did not. Furthermore, some of the latitude/longitude data that came with the data set was incorrect. While we tried to account for these errors, and calculate the correct latitude/longitude, this could not be done in every case.
Additionally, there may have been crashes that took place in an intersection, but were not labeled as such, for one reason or another. As a result, these crashes are not part of the I-TEAM’s analysis. We tried to account for this by using other methods to identify intersection crashes, but due to the other issues with the data, this introduced more error into the analysis.
This map shows the most dangerous intersections in each county in Northeast Florida. Red pins signify those with the most crashes, followed by the orange pins and yellow pins. You can use the menu on the right side of the map to zoom in to a specific county, and zoom in or out anywhere on the map for a better look at the data.