Concerns grow over growing traffic accident rates

An ordinary evening turned tragic for one Lauderhill family, when sons Shaquille LeGrande, 22 and Tyrese LeGrande, along with their friend Nathaniel Morgan, 25, were killed when the car they were passengers in broke through a golf-course fence in Inverrary and was submerged in a pond. Only the driver of the car, DeShawn Prince, 24, survived.

This marks the latest in a recent string of unusual car accidents, caused not by collisions with other cars, but with automobiles crashing into canals or caught driving on the wrong direction on highways. Expressing concern regarding this trend surging so early in the new year, Fort Lauderdale has joined the international Vision Zero initiative, which seeks to eliminate all road deaths and injuries. Fort Lauderdale, which has the second highest pedestrian fatality rate in the nation, plans to improve safety with new engineering, urban design and a public education platform.

Fort Lauderdale’s transportation manager, Debbie Griner, who was instrumental in forming Vision Zero Fort Lauderdale, believes motor accidents can be avoided if motorists and pedestrians “exercised more care and responsibility.”

Highway engineer Robert Blakely of Plantation says he’s “encouraged” to see Fort Lauderdale adapting the program, which has worked positively in Sweden, where it was founded. And since the program was implementation in New York two years ago, traffic fatalities have fallen significantly.

“If nothing else, the program creates more awareness on proper road use by motorists and pedestrians,” says Blakely. “I hope other cities in Florida adapts the program.”

Addressing the increasing frequency of wrong-way accidents on the region’s highways, Blakely said, “Municipal and state transportation authorities have been relentless to ensure motorists don’t drive on the wrong side of the road. There are overhead signs, brightly lit signs, sign posts, markings and bright red reflectors on highway surfaces that clearly alert and caution motorists if they are driving on the wrong side of the road, but still these accidents continue.”

Blakely said every time a one-way accident occurs, officials and road engineers react to improve highway safety measures.

“Some people want deflectors which damage automobile tires installed at the entrance to highway exit ramps, but this is not plausible, since police and medical emergency vehicles often access the highways from these exit ramps.”

The Florida Highway Patrol reports that one-way accidents are caused by motorists driving under the influence of alcohol.

“This is something Vision Zero and South Florida’s law enforcement have to zero in on,” Blakely said. “Too many motorists, young and old, are driving drunk. Plus, there’s also the problem of smart-phones distracting motorists which begs more effective regulations.”


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