Nearly 4,200 crashes in Pinellas County resulted in death or serious injury in a five year period, according to new data released by Forward Pinellas.
The county’s transportation planning agency shared the numbers as part of the “Safe Streets” campaign it launched Monday. The agency will review more than 131,000 collisions from 2015 to 2019 to get a sense of the county’s most dangerous spans of road and then work to decrease the number of traffic related deaths and severe injuries.
But officials said data can only go so far. Transportation planners want to hear from people who walk, bike and drive in Pinellas to get a better sense of where people feel unsafe, said Sarah Caper, principal planner at Forward Pinellas.
“We know near misses are a problem or places where people avoid because they feel unsafe,” Caper said."It may be you’ve seen too many people almost get hit, so you go out of the way to avoid it. We’d like to know where those areas are, as well."
People can use different colored icons to make comments on an interactive map for transportation planners to review. For example, a green car signals that drivers are going too fast. Two orange people indicates inadequate or missing pedestrian crosswalks. A purple motorcycle can be used to show where the speed limit is too high.
The agency will use this input to develop a high injury network that will help determine where money and resources should be spent on safety investments, Caper said. It will also help Forward Pinellas decide what more needs to be done when it comes to education and public policy.
People can also review maps, traffic patterns and trends that transportation officials have already identified.
For example, while a majority of the serious crashes involved cars only, 15 percent involved pedestrians, according to the agency’s data. Ten percent of deaths and serious injuries were bicyclists.
The annual number of total traffic deaths and serious injuries has decreased in the five-year span, but annual pedestrian deaths saw a slight uptick from 2018 to 2019.
Officials have already identified the intersections of US-19 with Tampa Road and Curlew Road as a dangerous area for bikes, motorcycles and pedestrians.
A stretch of Gulf Boulevard south of Belleair Beach has seen several serious crashes involving cyclists, despite on-street bicycle lanes and other facilities.
Similarly, the area in Clearwater Beach near and south of the main roundabout sees serious injuries and deaths as a result of recurring congestion and conflict, where drivers unfamiliar with the area may be especially distracted.
Other hot spots include intersections along U.S. 19, Park Boulevard, State Road 686 (Ulmerton Road) and 49th Street.
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Forward Pinellas was initially looking to share this information with the public in late March, but then the coronavirus pandemic hit Florida, Caper said. By late April and early May, it became apparent that the agency would not be able to hold large public meetings for some time.
“We really want people’s input and we’re excited to do this live push,” Caper said.
People have about four weeks to review the data and make comments. Click here for more information.