Road safety fair at UNF timely following recent fatal crashes

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Road safety is an issue on a lot of people's minds this week as the number of fatal accidents on northeast Florida roads are on the rise.

Seven people at three scenes died in area accidents just on Monday.

The University of North Florida held a road safety fair Thursday addressing the problem, and one UNF student shared his experience of a crash that's changed his life.

"You don't want to be that one person who ruined someone else's life," said Andre Demere.

Demere said he still feels the effects every day from injuries he suffered in a crash. He said his car was struck by a speeding driver.

His goal now is to encourage other drivers to slow down and think of the innocent people on the road.

"It's better to be safe than sorry," Demere said. "It's not going to make that much of a difference if you get there five minutes earlier or later. It's better to just get there safely; it's the only thing that really matters."

Speed isn't the only issue. There are plenty of other ways people can cause an accident, so the event at UNF featured texting simulators and other demonstrations to highlight potentially dangerous driving situations.

One way students learned that drinking and driving is so dangerous was by putting on fatal vision glasses.

Another issue in Jacksonville is bicycle and pedestrian-involved crashes.

A couple of weeks ago, 16-year old Malk Sunwabeh was walking across the road near Wolfson High School when he was hit by a car, then run over by a truck. He died from his injuries.

City Council member Don Redman is an avid cyclist and said the public needs to be better educated about the rules of the road.

"In Jacksonville we've been lacking in bike lanes and bicycle safety," he said.

Redman has personal experience with the lack of safety.

"It's not safe to ride on most of our streets," he said. "I've been hit four times in the last few years by cars."

Redman said there is a new position in place in City Council to look at the problems around Jacksonville and decide where bike lanes and other safety features need to be added. He said hopefully that will help decrease the number of accidents.

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