• Clay County Sheriff's Office #DontDriveDistracted Campaign yields positive results

    By: Courtney Cole , Action News Jax


    The Clay County Sheriff’s Office is going after distracted drivers.

    "Every day we’re talking about it. Every chance that we get to bring something to the community we’re talking about it,” said Sgt. Keith Smith, spokesman for the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

    While the primary focus is to discourage people from using smartphones while driving, Smith says all distractions are dangerous.

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    “We’ve seen people trying to eat a four course meal in the passenger’s seat,” Sergeant Smith said.

    While the campaign is only a few weeks old, it's already getting results.

    On Sept.7 and 8, sheriff's deputies dedicated special focus to Blanding Boulevard between Kingsley Avenue and Old Jennings Road.

    They made contact with 93 drivers, gave out 60 traffic tickets and made one arrest.

    Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole drove down Blanding Boulevard today, along with photojournalist Russ Pyne, and they noticed several people using their phones while driving.

    Bill Herndon told Action News Jax he sees it all the time driving out here.

    “They’re told and told and told don’t drive and text, but people don’t pay any attention,” said Herndon.

    Texting and driving is only a secondary offense in Florida for now, but Smith says the campaign's goal is to educate.

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    “It is a concern, it is an issue and we’re going to keep doing this until we see a great positive influence out here in Clay County,” Smith said.

    Deborah Nash said she's been driving for Uber and GrubHub for the last eight months...and she sees distracted drivers everywhere in Orange Park.

    “I see people texting and driving. I see people at stop lights that don’t even realize the light has turned green and they’re just sitting there… and they’re on their phones,” Nash told Action News Jax.

    Nash says it's frustrating, “I just get irritated because they’re not paying attention.”

    The Sheriff’s Office tweeted out 10 dangerous intersections on Thursday where many accidents have occurred. They said they believe many of these accidents could have been avoided.

    Blanding Boulevard made up more than half of the dangerous intersections.

    “Some intersections are always going to be in the top 10 because of the amount of people that travel that thoroughfare,” Smith told Action News Jax.

    While traffic enforcement will continue throughout the county, Smith says these 10 intersections will get extra attention.

    "Those are where you’re more likely to see unmarked cars." Smith said they will also have undercover officers, on foot in these areas keeping a lookout.

    He says the goal is to make sure people are aware.

    He hopes awareness will cause drivers to use more cautious behavior while driving, to help bring these car crash numbers down.

    “Any difference in the right direction is a gain for us out here,” said Smith.

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