JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Sunshine State continues to rank as one of the three most dangerous states in the United States for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists and in 2019, and that is especially true in Duval County.
While the total number of deaths on Florida’s roads between 2018 and 2019 was similar and even down slightly in most Northeast Florida counties, recent data from the Department of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles show that the numbers of fatal crashes continue to rise in Duval County. And nearly half of those who died on Duval County roads were not in cars, SUVs or trucks.
Of 163 crash fatalities reported in Jacksonville last year, 46 were pedestrians — up from 34 deaths the year before. Twenty-five people on motorcycles died on Duval County roads in 2019 — up from 19 the previous year. Ten people on bicycles were killed in Jacksonville in each of the last two years.
Jacksonville’s numbers are not off to a good start for 2020.
There have been two pedestrians, one bicyclist and one motorcyclist killed in Duval County so far this year, and it is only mid-February.
According to the report, 160 bicycle riders died on Florida roads last year. That number went up from 2018, when 142 bicyclists were killed in the Sunshine State.
In St. Johns County last year, there were 58 bicycle crashes with three deaths, which is up slightly from the year before. The number of pedestrians killed in St. Johns actually dropped in half -- from eight in 2018 to four in 2019 -- but nine motorcyclists died last year, jumping from two in 2018.
Clay County each saw three bicyclists killed in 2019. The number of pedestrians who died on Clay County roads dropped from six in 2018 to three last year, but motorcycle fatalities increased from two to three.
Not all the counties in Northeast Florida are unsafe for bicyclists. Last year, there were no reported bike deaths in Nassau, Baker, Flagler, Union or Bradford counties. But three pedestrians died in Bradford County, two motorcyclists died in Baker County last year and Flagler County had six motorcycle fatalities and one pedestrian death.
The other thing the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles data show the prevalence of hit-and-run crashes. Last year in Duval County, there were 7,044 hit-and-run crashes resulting in 17 deaths.
The numbers show 84% of fatal hit-and-run crashes occur at dawn, dusk or at nighttime.
The penalty for leaving the scene of a crash involving death in Florida is stiff: a minimum of 4 years in prison, license revoked for at least three years and a $10,000 fine.