Walton Sheriff Ups Patrols on Busier SR-20

Accidents on State Route 20 escalate, demanding attention as commuters face rising dangers. Authorities step up traffic enforcement, but the road's popularity and the influx of drivers pose persistent challenges to safety.

The stretch of State Route 20 between Niceville and Freeport continues to prove itself as one of the most dangerous commuter conduits in the Mid Bay area. 

Just this week – a head-on collision between two cars on the road sent two people to the hospital and shut down the road during the afternoon commute. One person was taken to the hospital by helicopter. According to authorities, another person was taken to the hospital by a South Walton Fire Department Ambulance that happened to be returning from Niceville at the same time. 

Another incident on Monday, February 26, at the Walton and Washington County line killed a mother and her daughter. 

As commuters on the road know, the two-land highway is the main artery for people who commute to the Niceville area for work, specifically at Eglin Air Force Base. The lower land cost has seen many people move to the area to escape higher land prices in Niceville, giving them more purchasing power per square foot. The growth also means many more people on State Route 20 – many of them speeding, driving distracted and performing dangerous maneuvers on the road. 

Walton County Sheriff Public Information Officer Corey Dobridnia said Sheriff Michael Adkinson has made the enforcement of traffic laws a point of emphasis in District 2, which includes Walton County’s stretch of State Route 20. They’ve added a deputy to the district whose full-time job is traffic enforcement on the road. “We know it’s a problem, and people in our community have asked us to step it up – that’s what we’re doing,” Dobridnia said, “Freeport is growing so much. [The day of the accident] we sent a [traffic enforcement] deputy from one side of the county to another [to work accidents]. He worked half of his shift on traffic crashes. That means less enforcement times on the road.”

The Sheriff’s Office has made 146 traffic stops on the road and responded to 34 accidents (nine of which were accidents with injuries) since the beginning of 2024. That works out to about half an accident and two and a half strops per day so far this year. It also means the road has seen an accident with injuries on average once per week. 

Still, State Route 20 presents a problem as the number of drivers continues to increase on the road known for its beautiful views of Destin and South Walton from across the Choctawhatchee Bay. 


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