On Sept. 17, another serious car accident occured on North Meridian Road involving a Chiles High School student leaving him in critical condition. Aside from the physical closeness of this accident, many Maclay students were also emotionally impacted as students share connections and relationships with the Chiles student body. Unfortunately, this was not the first accident on Meridian that left a lasting impact on the Maclay and broader Tallahassee communities. 

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, “North Meridian Road has been the site of at least four deaths and three injuries in single-vehicle crashes since March 2021 when two Chiles High School students, 14 and 15, were killed.” With its windy tree-lined roads, deep ditches, poor visibility and lack of safety features, Meridian has become one of the most dangerous roads in Tallahassee and has become a serious risk to both teen and adult drivers. As a community, it’s time to step in and call for change in both student drivers and county officials before Meridian takes its next victim.

While the entirety of Meridian Road poses a threat to drivers, the “s” curve on North Median between Gardner Road to the Summerbrook neighborhood, a stretch of about .65 miles, is considered to be the most dangerous as it has been the location of both previously mentioned accidents. In June 2021, the county did put down retroreflective pavement markers leading up to the curve, starting at 40 feet apart, then increasing to 20 feet apart, then 10 feet apart on the curve itself. In addition to constructing chevron sign markers around the curve to aid in visibility. However, with the Sept. 17 crash, these efforts are clearly not enough. 

Locals are demanding a change. Commissioner Brian Welch released a statement to his Facebook page stating his concern over the stretch of Meridian Road and his action in evaluating future safety mitigation options. A Chiles student also took charge following the recent accident and created a change.org petition to help raise attention to Meridian Road. As of Sept. 27, over 2,500 individuals have signed the petition, many Maclay students and Andalusian members included. 

“My friends last year passed away on Meridian road and I know that another boy was just hurt on Meridian road,” junior Parker Lambert said. “It’s just a dangerous road and too narrow. I’m not allowed to drive on that road and it’s just safer to have it closed down. We’re young drivers and each year something new will probably happen on Meridian if action is not taken, so it’s important that it is taken so that events don’t keep happening.”

Officials are also making efforts to come up with a solution to better improve Meridian Road and to hopefully reduce the number of crashes. According to WFSU News, better safety measures are being installed to help make the road safer. For example, radar flashing signs are going to be put into place to alert drivers about their speed and the upcoming, dangerous curve. Other pavement markings and reflective lights are also being added to warn drivers to drive safely. While these improvements are an excellent start, we can also aid in these efforts by joining in and continuing to sign the petition and write to county officials to encourage further safety features. 

In addition to calling for change on Meridian Road, we must also do our part as student drivers and be proactive in driving responsibly. Driving is a pivotal right-of-passage for teens, but we must realize we are responsible for not only our own, but others lives the second we get behind the wheel. While vehicles can be a great use for transportation and a crucial element in our everyday lives, they can also become deadly weapons when used recklessly. Aside from road conditions, accidents can also be prevented by driving with awareness and being mindful of surroundings. This includes putting away our cell-phones, being vigilant, going the speed limit, driving sober and avoiding any other driving distractions. While many of these actions have become normalized amongst teen drivers, they are also the factors that can determine a life or death situation.

The safe space of our community and familiar roads has unfortunately been disrupted. With the numerous accidents on Meridian, it is clear that these headlines will continue without serious change. We must join in the efforts and aid those pleading for new safety features on Meridian. We must also do our part as teen drivers and understand the gravity of that responsibility. At Maclay, we preach the idea of one school, one community, but we must also know that our community ties and impact extend beyond the school gates.