Panama City, FL –
WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – On a daily average, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office responds to a traffic accident with or without injuries every 3 hours. This represents an average of eight accidents per day.
South Walton (Santa Rosa Beach, Miramar Beach, Inlet Beach) sees the most accidents, hosting 58% of the total amount, according to WCSO accident data seen Wednesday.
Some say the excessive development of the area is to blame for increasing traffic. Others say it’s bad street lighting.
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Ian Satter, communications manager for the Florida Department of Transportation, said the growing population of local residents and tourists is indeed the reason there are more accidents in South Walton. With more cars going through an area, especially on a fast and busy road like Highway 98, there are bound to be more accidents, he said.
But, despite two fatal crashes within minutes of each other on Highway 98 last week, North Walton (DeFuniak Springs, Freeport, Eglin, Ponce de Leon, Laurel Hill, Crestview) tends to see more dangerous accidents, accounting for 63.2% of accidents. involving injuries and only 34.2% of accidents without injuries.
Satter said accidents in the northern parts of the county occur in more rural areas and therefore occur at a higher speed, causing more serious collisions.
Data also shows that the most dangerous time to drive in Walton County is between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
This is unusual as peak hours are generally described as 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and many people work during the day.
With most crashes occurring within this small window of time, the average time between crashes is 1 hour and 3 minutes.
Satter added that the county is at the start of preparations for a study on Walton County traffic. He said the study will look at factors such as speed limits, signal timing and signage visibility to see if adjustments can be made on roads to reduce the volume of crashes.
“If you can reduce congestion, you can improve safety,” he said.