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FDOT: Who’s behind the wheel of local auto crashes

Veronica Brezina

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Image by Unsplash/Eric McLean.

Roughly eight people die and 49 are seriously injured in auto accidents every day on the state’s roadways, according to the Florida Department of Transportation, which is partnering with surrounding authorities to crack down on aggressive driving. 

The majority of the avoidable crashes resulted from drivers departing from their lane along the roadway, colliding at intersections or striking pedestrians and bicyclists. FDOT reported that 50% of the fatal and serious injury crashes involve a young male driver, and West Florida, which includes Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, is one of the top regions where young males live and have been involved in these types of incidents. 

“The safety of Florida’s roadways is dependent upon each of us, which is why it is imperative for motorists to drive responsibly and patiently. While it may be tempting to partake in dangerous behaviors when other motorists are driving aggressively around you, help ensure the safety of yourself and others by keeping your distance and staying focused on the road ahead,” District Seven Secretary David Gwynn said Tuesday during a kick-off event for a new campaign called Target Zero. 

FDOT, along with the Florida Highway Patrol, Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, is joining the new statewide Target Zero initiative. The data-driven behavior change strategy aims to help implement an educational campaign within the Florida Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP), the state’s existing strategy to eliminate serious injuries and fatalities across the transportation system. 

Officers will especially be on high alert this weekend as motorists will be traveling to celebrate the 4th of July. 

High-crash corridors in the district, which includes the roadways from Dali Boulevard S. to 72 Avenue N. and south of Countryside Boulevard to north of Pineridge Way S. Image: FDOT. 

While FDOT’s safety campaign is targeting aggressive driving, pedestrian safety is another avenue of concern.  

Last year, a report from Smart Growth America ranked the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area as the fourth most dangerous region in the U.S. for pedestrians. The urban development advocacy group ranked the nation’s metro areas by pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents between 2016 and 2020.

With 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people, pedestrians are more likely to die taking a stroll in Tampa than in places like Miami, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Forward Pinellas, the county’s land use and transportation agency, shared a map outlining the areas within the county showing where the most recent fatal auto and pedestrian-related accidents are occurring. 

For example, the map identifies the intersection of State Road 686 and 34th St. N., where two pedestrians were killed. 

A map showing where the majority of crashes and fatal pedestrian accidents have been reported in the county. Image: Forward Pinellas.

In the report of the fatal crashes involving pedestrians from the start of 2022 through April (when the latest data was collected), there is a common theme. 

“We’ve found that while pedestrian crashes happen at all times, the ones at night are more common to result in a fatality because the drivers do not see the pedestrians in enough time to slow/stop their vehicles,” a Forward Pinellas planning manager wrote via email. 

The City of St. Petersburg and Forward Pinellas have taken multiple approaches to prevent pedestrian fatalities such as adding flashing beacons in certain areas to alert drivers of pedestrian crossings. They have also rolled out Vision Zero and Safe Streets Pinellas campaigns to advocate for additional projects to help eliminate avoidable crashes. 

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Donna Kostreva

    June 29, 2023at1:48 pm

    Many pedestrians are completely ignorant of the laws regulating crossing a street. For example, at USF, face buried in the phone, a hand extends for the flashing light button without breaking stride, or looking up. There seriously needs to be a city wide educational campaign about the law.

    https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/316.130

  2. Avatar

    J.G. West

    June 29, 2023at10:30 am

    Add cameras that activate when the crosswalk is in use to. If a vehicle runs the red light, ticket them. Conversely, jaywalkers should be ticked too. That however is nearly impossible. It would have to be in front of law enforcement and the jaywalker, or runner would have to stop.

    It would be nice if the map showing the accidents were interactive so it can be zoomed in on and shared.

  3. Scott Wagman

    Scott Wagman

    June 28, 2023at8:38 pm

    KG is absolutely correct. The crosswalk warning lights that are activated by pedestrians are maybe 30% effective. Drivers don’t stop for yellow blinking lights. The lights need to be changed to red blinking lights.
    The City should experiment by converting several crosswalks to red and see what the results are.

  4. Avatar

    Thomas Hansen

    June 28, 2023at7:35 pm

    In North Tampa, along Fletcher Ave., the state put in several crosswalks with lights. People still try to run across the road, trying to beat the traffic, and they are 30 feet from the crosswalks. I stopped driving on Fletcher because of several near misses with pedestrians. Perhaps an educational program might help.

  5. Avatar

    KG

    June 28, 2023at5:28 pm

    Part of the problem is that the lights at pedestrian crossings blink YELLOW. why don’t the lights blink RED. A red light means to STOP and a yellow light now means hurry through when it used to mean slow down or caution. Change the lights to BLINK RED!

  6. Avatar

    Jeanette R Bulatowicz

    June 28, 2023at4:35 pm

    I’m not sure about “taking a stroll”. Running madly across the street in an unmarked area seems to happen all the time, especially across 34th Street. Scary for everyone..

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