Heavy rain causes mess on roadways

FHP worked over 30 active crashes Tuesday morning

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you had to work or go to school Tuesday morning, chances are you were stuck in a traffic mess. Rounds of severe weather caused a number of problems for early morning commuters.

More than 30 car accidents were reported around town because of heavy downpours and slick roadways, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

"There's nothing you can do after a certain point like this morning,” said Jacob Wilson, Transportation Management Center operations supervisor for the Florida Department of Transportation. “There were so many crashes that we prioritized them on severity."

The accidents added to the typical morning congestion, causing major backups on all major roadways including the Buckman Bridge, Interstate 95 and Interstate 10.

"It's the worse day I've seen since Hurricane Matthew," Wilson said.

Some of the hot spots reported around 7:30 a.m. included I-95 southbound on the Northside, where two crashes with injuries blocked several lanes. One of those accidents was near Dunn Avenue. The other accident was on Lem Turner Road.

"It was crazy all morning, phones ringing off the hook, people yelling at each other," Wilson said.

Heavy delays were also reported in Mandarin and Clay County, with backups on U.S. 17 northbound from Green Cove Springs to Orange Park.

Wilson said many of the crashes could have been avoided if people paid closer attention while driving.

"People not paying attention, people slamming the brakes too hard,” Wilson said. “We had a lot of people spinning out this morning."

Drivers were encouraged to leave the door early and plan for added delays in their morning commute. Drivers were told to expect standing water along highways and back roads and to keep a safe distance between the cars ahead.

Northeast Florida Safety Council instructor Ronald Page said it took him over an hour to get to work. A drive that ordinarily only takes half that time. He noticed many drivers going against the traffic rules he teaches every day.

"Rather than slow down when inclement weather hits, people have a tendency to speed up," Page said.

Speed, along with slippery roads and low visibility are a combination that can be "very dangerous," Page said.

Officials reminded drivers that it is illegal to drive in the rain with hazard lights turned on. If you feel uncomfortable driving in the rain, stay off the road or pull over to a safe area and wait it out.

Many of the crashes involved injuries, which proves as a reminder to be aware of the changing road conditions and follow traffic laws -- especially during severe weather.