WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — On a daily average, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office responds to a traffic crash with or without injuries every 3 hours. This averages about eight crashes per day.
South Walton (Santa Rosa Beach, Miramar Beach, Inlet Beach) sees most of the crashes, hosting 58% of the total amount, according to crash data from the WCSO accessed Wednesday.
Some say the over development of the area is to blame for bringing more traffic in. Others say that it’s the poor street lighting.
Ian Satter, the Florida Department of Transportation communications manager, said that the growing population of both local residents and tourists is indeed why there are more crashes in South Walton. With more cars moving through an area, especially on a fast, busy road like Highway 98, there are bound to be more accidents, he said.
But, despite the two fatal crashes that happened minutes from each other on Highway 98 last week, North Walton (DeFuniak Springs, Freeport, Eglin, Ponce de Leon, Laurel Hill, Crestview) tends to see more dangerous crashes, hosting 63.2% of crashes involving injuries and only 34.2% of crashes without injuries.
Satter said that the crashes in the northern areas of the county happen in more rural areas, and therefore happen at a higher speed causing more severe collisions.
The 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 since rush hour is usually described as 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and many people are at work during the day.
With most of the crashes happening in this small window of time, the average time between crashes is 1 hour and 3 minutes.
Satter added that the county is in the beginning stages of preparing a study on Walton County traffic. He said that the study will examine factors including speed limits, signal timing and signage visibility to see if there can be any adjustments made on the roads to reduce the volume of crashes.
“If you can reduce congestion, you can improve safety,” he said.