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Community group wants pedestrian safety to be top priority in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Community advocacy group the Northside Coalition on Monday called for city and state agencies to make pedestrian safety a bigger priority and do more to prevent future deadly crashes.

When it comes to pedestrian-related crashes, the numbers are staggering. According to state database Florida's Integrated Report Exchange System, there were nearly 500 pedestrian crashes, 38 of which were deadly, last year in Duval County. The database shows so far this year, seven people died after being struck by a vehicle. Most recently, family said Arthur Davis died after he was struck by a vehicle Friday night while crossing Lem Turner Road near Interstate 95. Police said the driver of the vehicle kept going.

"It's common ground out here for people to get hit by a car," said Neahne Mckeiver, who lives nearby and crosses the busy road frequently. "At night, it's pitch black. There are no street lights."

While News4Jax was interviewing Mckeiver on Monday, several people, including one family pushing a stroller, could be seen crossing the street, some hesitantly. None of them used a crosswalk.

"People are going to cross the street regardless. People will take the chance," Mckeiver said. "But I really think some better lighting, some flashing lights and a walkway would be nice."

A pedestrian improvement project, which includes a crosswalk with lighting, has already been planned for the intersection of Lem Turner Road and I-95. It won't happen until 2021 and people who live in the area said something needs to be done sooner than later.

"This attitude of apathy and placing this issue on the back burner, that should be over," said Ben Frazier, founder and president of the Northside Coalition. "We must bring this issue to the top of the list. This is a major public safety issue. We need to address it."

Frazier said he has been in contact with several local agencies about the problem.

"We've got to be able to push the needle for positive change," he said.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, there were 45 pedestrian fatalities in 2017 and 38 in 2018 -- a decrease of 15.6 percent. Jacksonville police said they have implemented several safety programs through grants, as well as issuing citations for people who illegally cross the street.

JSO RESOURCES: Pedestrian safety information | Pedestrian citations issued | Previous pedestrian grant results | Sixth FDOT grant awarded to JSO to continue focus on pedestrian safety.

As far as adding crosswalks and lights, according to JSO, the city and the Florida Department of Transportation would be responsible for that.

FDOT said anyone who has concerns about the safety of major roadways can request a traffic study. To request a traffic study or voice concerns, call 866-374-FDOT (3368).

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