A grandmother came to Florida to see her grandson graduate from high school last week. What should have been a joyful occasion turned into a serious tragedy when the woman was killed in a car accident. A number of factors are being cited as causes of the accident. Among them are a dangerous intersection and a young, unlicensed driver.
The accident happened when the 77-year-old grandmother was riding in a car driven by her son. As they were driving down U.S. 98 on their way to Wal-Mart, a driver pulled out in front of them from a side street. Unable to stop in time, the man crashed into the Durango and spun into another car, which caused his engine to ignite. The driver in the Durango was a 15-year-old girl with a learner’s permit.
The young girl did not have anyone over the age of 21 in the car with her, which is a violation of her driver’s permit. Had she been driving with an adult, as is required, it is possible the accident may have never happened. Charges against the girl for her role in the accident are pending.
Also to blame for the crash are the insufficient traffic signals on the busy highway. According to several reports, there is only a stop sign for drivers attempting to turn onto or cross the highway. This has resulted in several car and pedestrian accidents. The grandmother’s son stated that if the state would put up a light at that intersection, instead of a stop sign, lives could be saved.
The Florida Department of Transportation has launched a safety audit of the dangerous strip of highway from Pensacola Bay Bridge to the Okaloosa county line. This stretch of road has been the site of at least three fatal accidents in one month alone.
Improving the traffic signals is a good step in preventing drivers from trying to shoot across the highway where drivers are traveling at high speeds. However, any safety enhancements have come too late for people who have already but hurt or killed in accidents on that highway.
Source: Pensacola News Journal, “Girl, 15, driving alone in crash that killed 77-year-old woman on U.S. 98,” Kimberly Blair and Rhema Thompson, June 2, 2012