What's the Problem?

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

Everyone wants to know when the accidents will stop on Highway 77 and what it's going to take for lessons to be learned.

Al Ford, the Captain of the Southport Volunteer Fire Department, has seen too much tragedy this year.

"It's gotten to the point now when the call goes out for an accident on Highway 77, we're expecting the worst, and it has been," says Ford.

With truck, school and regular traffic clogging the rural two-lane highway, patience is needed.

Beth Wall, a teacher at the Gulf Coast Community College West Bay Campus, drives the highway five days a week.

"There's a lot of traffic, a lot of people passing, trying to get around school buses, dump trucks, it's a very busy, highly traveled road," she says.

Joel Hand, a law enforcement instructor at the campus, agrees. "I can tell you that some of the driving up here is horrible and scary."

Captain Ford says it's scary enough to increase the visibility and patrol of law enforcement along the highway. The Florida Highway Patrol usually has about eight troopers along 77 and the Bay County Sheriff's Office also its increased officers.

"I know the law enforcement officials have been very good about patrolling it and have stopped a lot of speeders," says Ford.

A year ago, the Sheriff's Office issued 67 traffic tickets along Highway 77. The number more than doubled during the same five month period this year with 241 tickets.

Connie Jones, a teacher at Southport Elementary, says it's a struggle every day.

"I've had to pull off the side of the road because the lady was coming around that curve into my lane because she was passing someone. It doesn't seem to matter how many accidents we have, people are still driving crazy out there," says Connie.

But the constant reminders are there, spotting the side of the highway with white crosses and innocent names.


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