2 triple semi crashes in 2 days highlight dangers for drivers

Trucker says increased traffic causing safety concerns


BALDWIN, Fla. – Tens of thousands of vehicles roll along U.S. 301 and I-10 through Baldwin every day. 

The area is a hub for truckers, and many of them can be seen daily along the routes.

Semitruck driver Deon Wilds, who travels through Baldwin once a year, said he's noticed a growing volume of tractor-trailer traffic in the area and beyond.

"Lot of trucks. And it's not just Baldwin,” Wilds said. “If you go down to Southern Florida, it's a lot of trucks."

Wilds wasn't surprised when News4Jax told him about two crashes involving multiple semis Tuesday and Wednesday. 

In both cases, major sections of Interstate 10 and U.S. 301 were shut down for several hours. The I-10 crash involved milk cartons scattered across the road from a trailer load, and the 301 crash appeared to involve some diesel fuel that spilled and had to be cleaned up.

Knowing what it's like to drive a powerful truck, Wilds said he understands close calls and that most drivers don't realize just how dangerous it is to get too close to a big rig.

"It's almost like a bomb going on a highway or train,” Wilds said. “If somebody cuts us off, it takes us 400 or 500 (feet) sometimes to stop."

Wilds said he takes safety on the road very seriously, and he's installed cameras on the sides of his truck with another on his dash.

"They're monitored. They're recorded to a black box, so if I'm ever in an accident, I take the SD card out and give it to police,” Wilds said.

The most recent data compiled from the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization shows 53,000 vehicles travel along I-10 in the Baldwin area every day. On U.S. 301, the number stands at 9,600 per day.

Data from the FIRES (Florida's Integrated Report Exchange System) website shows that in the area of 301 and I-10 near Baldwin, 255 crashes involving 484 vehicles have been reported in the last year. In those crashes, 127 injuries and eight fatalities were reported.

Wilds said with more trucks on the road, people need to be more careful. 

"We could potentially kill somebody, ourselves, injure another vehicle,” Wilds said. “And that's the last thing we want to do."

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