It’s a new effort to combat a startling trend in Jacksonville.
Representatives from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Department of Transportation were all on hand to launch “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow”- a safety campaign aimed to cut down the number of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities. The campaign focuses on “The 3 E’s”: engineering, education and enforcement.
“Engineers have the responsibility to make sure intersections and roadways are designed and operating properly, drivers and pedestrians have the responsibility to always be alert and obey traffic laws. The success of this campaign depends on all of us,” says District FDOT Secretary Greg Evans.
Evans says the campaign will cost about $100,000 over the next three months, when you will start to see TV and bus ads, pamphlets, and other information guides about the campaign. One of the most immediate notices you may already see on your commute, the digital notice boards on portions of the highway.
Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford says they’re taking the campaign very seriously because fatalities have seen a sudden change.
“Traffic fatalities in Jacksonville were going in the right direction, they were going down- they were going down pretty significantly,” he says.
Last year, however, that trend stopped and 138 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents, a 39% increase. Rutherford made the chilling comparison to the number of murders we saw in Jacksonville last year, 98 people. He says murders may get more attention, but the family and friends affected by traffic accidents are no less in pain.
The campaign puts safety responsibility on not just drivers, but bicyclists and pedestrians as well. They’re pushing a new focus on simple things that most people do every day that are really dangerous violations. FHP Major Anthony Allen says one of the biggest problems is drivers who don’t come to a full stop when making a right turn on a red light. If both the driver and the pedestrian that could be crossing don’t pay attention to each other, this quickly becomes a dangerous situation.
“You could become the driver that kills one of those pedestrians or one of those bicyclists,” Rutherford says.
He says a lot of this does come with common sense: stop texting while driving or engaging in other distracted behavior, use bike lanes, cross with the light at crosswalks, etc. Over the next three months specifically, however, they will put a big focus on that common message.
To bring that message to people, police and troopers will be distributing information to businesses and undergoing training themselves to then hit the streets and assess common safety problems.