In 2018, there was one death as a result of a traffic accident. This year, there have been six.
With four traffic fatalities happening in the city in the last month — more than the number that happened in all of 2018 — the city of Ormond Beach and the Police Department are taking measures to fight back against those numbers.
Mayor Bill Partington outlined the three major accident-causing traffic problems as speeding, distracted driving and reckless driving. Based on that, he said he directed Police Chief Jesse Godfrey and City Manager Joyce Shanahan to come up with an action plan to address those concerns through education and enforcement. This year, the city has seen a total of six fatalities due to traffic accidents.
In 2018, there was only one.
“It’s concerning, and I think about the individual lives that were lost and the families who lost a loved one," Partington said. "And then, the people who either caused or were part of those accidents, they have to live with that — the fact they killed somebody.”
Godfrey delivered a video statement on the matter on Wednesday, June 5, the day after 73-year-old Mary Spanos of Daytona Beach died by Shadow Lake Boulevard as a result of two other cars street racing. Spanos turned onto North Nova Road and was struck by 24-year-old Erik Worthington. The car Worthington was racing swerved to avoid the
crash and left the scene, police reported.
“They were flying so fast, there was nothing she could do," Partington said.
The accident on Memorial Day at the intersection of Seminole Drive and West Granada Boulevard claimed two lives. The woman who was at the crosswalk while crossing the road was visually impaired and pregnant, Godfrey confirmed. Her name has yet to be released.
Godfrey said in his video statement that the recent incidents in the city could not be overlooked or disregarded "as the norm." He vowed that the city would take action, and that officers were already increasing traffic safety through education and enforcement.
“As your police chief, I’m concerned about the drivers’ behavior and their disregard for the safety of our residents here in Ormond Beach," Godfrey said. "The loss of one life is too many.”
Since then, the city has placed electronic signs cautioning drivers to watch for pedestrians and to slow down, speed trailer to track how fast cars are going and buckled down on its enforcement of traffic laws. Godfrey said the Department hopes these things will serve as a reminder to pay attention.
An average of 300 people each year die in Florida as a result of speeding, Godfrey said.
“No matter how eager you are to get to your destination, speeding and driving aggressively is dangerous," he said.
Partington said he attributes high speeds to the fatal accidents. He believes if people followed the speed limit and other traffic safety rules, accidents would decrease on the major thoroughfares.
“People just driving so fast for no good reason other than they think they’re going to get there a couple minutes quicker," Partington said. "We want them to get there safe and alive, and be safe for everybody else in the community.”
Godfrey said the Police Department has also implemented extra officers in key areas of the city, and have measures for increased enforcement protocols throughout.
"There will be a Traffic Safety social media campaign all summer to better educate our residents and visitors and remind everyone to slow down and drive responsibly so incidents like this don’t happen," Godfrey said.
The city is working with the Department of Transportation to increase safety for pedestrians as well, he added. The hope is to get improvements on Nova Road by The Trails Shopping Center and acquire more signalized crosswalks on A1A. Partington said he will bring the topic of traffic safety to the Volusia County Roundtable of Elected Officials eventually, to see if a community-wide effort can be kickstarted.
“It’s just something that we have to try to address," Partington said. "You can’t prevent everything, but I’m hoping if we can bring awareness to it and raise the issue with enforcement and education and those kind of things, that we can calm things down.”