A1A Is Not a Highway

It’s a road known nationally as Florida’s “Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway.” As you drive along A1A through the Beaches and into St. Augustine, you get a perfect view of the coast with some of the most serene views in North Florida

However, there’s a darker side to this famed road.

According to the Jacksonville Beach Police, there is a greater amount of speeding and motor vehicle accidents on A1A (also referred to as Third Street by locals) than anywhere else at the Beaches. If you were to search “car accidents on A1A in Jacksonville,” the first links to come up all describe the same thing: fatal car accidents.

We know speeding and distracted driving happens on more than just this state road, but here’s the issue: A1A is not the highway everyone treats it as. There are traffic lights, stop signs and crosswalks that some drivers seem to disregard.

On Oct. 13, 2021, for example, an accident took place on A1A near the corner of Fourth Avenue North in Jacksonville Beach, causing the death of Theodore Hudson, a passenger on a motorcycle involved in the collision. On the same day, it was reported two fatalities occurred after a van heading south on A1A hit an oncoming vehicle in the north lane early that morning. A month prior to that, a pedestrian was in critical condition after being hit by a car on A1A. Earlier in the year, a woman was killed after a three-car crash occurred on the same road.

These tragic stories are only the tip of the iceberg, however.

The frequency with which serious accidents occur on A1A can be attributed to several factors. The lighting is very poor, and the road is surrounded by greenery, both of which significantly affect visibility at night. Speeding is also an issue, especially in areas with a speed limit of 35. Non-vehicular traffic including pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders and runners, provides another difficulty for navigating down A1A at the Beaches.

In Ponte Vedra Beach, the speed limit picks up slightly, but drivers just go that much faster or weave through traffic, often without respecting crosswalks and traffic lights. South of Ponte Vedra, as A1A gets darker and more difficult to navigate, they seem to speed up even more.

So, next time you decide to take the scenic route, pay extra attention to your surroundings, obey traffic signals and stick to the speed limit because it just might save a person’s life, maybe even your own.

About Molly Britt

Molly Britt is a multimedia journalist with Folio Weekly, as well as an account executive. As a Jax Beach local and University of North Florida graduate, she is familiar with all things Duval and Northeast Florida. She enjoys investigative journalism and interviews, using her platform to educate and inform the local community with her words. While at Folio, Britt has enjoyed interviews with the likes of Robby Takac of the Goo Goo Dolls and local small businesses such as Femme Fire Books.