Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Transportation

Here's a look at Tampa Bay's most crash-prone intersections

You're more likely to get into a car crash during the day. But you're more likely to be killed in a car crash at night. • Drivers making left turns at intersections cause far more accidents than motorists who rear-end other vehicles or drift out of their lane. • And more local drivers are getting distracted by things outside their vehicles than by their own cellphones. • New studies of auto accident trends in the Tampa Bay area unearthed these nuggets of information, and a lot more:

Vulnerable in crashes

Pinellas County officials recently analyzed nearly 18,000 traffic accidents from 2012. Most of the county's 106 traffic deaths that year — 58 percent of them — were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists.

Pinellas intersections with the most pedestrian deaths were along wider, heavily developed, six-lane surface roads such as Ulmerton, Starkey and Belcher roads, East Bay Drive, Seminole Boulevard and 66th Street N.

Hillsborough County officials analyzed accidents from 2006 to 2010, including nearly 11,000 severe crashes that caused deaths or incapacitating injuries. Pedestrians and bicyclists accounted for 31 percent of Hillsborough's traffic deaths.

Intersections

Not surprisingly, Pinellas County found that the intersections with the most accidents were on its most heavily traveled roads — namely U.S. 19 and Interstate 275. The county's top dozen intersections with the most crashes were along those roads, except for the intersection of Seminole and Park boulevards.

"U.S. 19 has our highest number of crashes overall," said Chelsea Favero, a staffer with Pinellas' transportation planning agency. "It has some of our highest traffic volumes, and a lot of activity at those intersections."

In Hillsborough, multiple intersections on heavily traveled, heavily developed Dale Mabry Highway were among the most crash-prone locations. Other dangerous roads were Fowler, Fletcher, Waters and Hillsborough avenues; and Bruce B. Downs and Brandon boulevards.

Hillsborough officials are studying several of the most dangerous intersections to see if anything can be done to make them safer.

Speeding

Despite recent news headlines about hot-button issues like red-light cameras and wrong-way drivers on the interstate, the simple fact is that the vast majority of car wrecks are still caused by motorists who are going too fast and not paying attention.

"Distractions, speed, improper turns and violation of signals or right of way are what I see the most of," said Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

Nighttime crashes

While 22 percent of all Pinellas County crashes happened at night, 56 percent of fatal crashes happened at night. "Our crashes at night tend to be more severe," Favero said.

In Hillsborough, less than 30 percent of all severe crashes happened at night, but 60 percent of all fatal crashes happened at night.

Left turns

Most of Hillsborough's accidents occurred along major urban roadways. And nearly 35 percent of those crashes involved drivers making left turns. The next-highest categories were rear-end crashes and lane-departure crashes, which accounted for 26 and 18 percent of accidents, respectively.

"People are being too impatient, trying to make that left turn," said Gena Torres, a senior transportation planner with Hills­borough County.

One common danger comes with four-lane roads with no medians.

"You want to make a left turn, but there's somebody across the intersection who also wants to make a left," Torres said. "It's really hard to see if another car is coming. You end up inching forward to peek around each other."

Other findings

• Less than 7 percent of all Pinellas crashes involved intoxication, but 46 percent of its fatal crashes involved intoxication.

• Nearly 30 percent of Pinellas crashes involved people between 15 and 34 years of age, while only 11 percent of crashes involved people 65 or older.

• 77 percent of Hillsborough's severe crashes occurred on roads with speed limits of 45 mph or higher.

Oh, and one more thing: We're in the thick of accident season right now, with the highest numbers of local crashes occurring in October, November and December.

Drive safely.

Contact Mike Brassfield at [email protected] or (727) 445-4151. Follow @MikeBrassfield.

   
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