Safety changes planned at intersection after pedestrian accident

One of the most dangerous intersections in Pinellas County may be getting a makeover. The Florida Department of Transportation investigated the intersection after a school crossing guard was killed on May 20 in a pedestrian accident. FDOT is reportedly requesting several safety improvements. According to authorities, the 70-year-old man was killed after a car speeding at 70 mph ran a red light and struck him.

The intersection, located at Belcher Road and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, is no stranger to crashes. There have been 153 car accidents there in the past five years, and 14 — including the May 20 accident have involved cyclists or pedestrians.

The Department of Transportation’s Road Safety Audit team has called for changes such as restriping stop bars and crosswalks at the intersection, adding clearer signs to the pedestrian crosswalks and improving the pavement markings. Further, FDOT is planning to conduct a review of the timing of the signal lights and let drivers know they need to slow down and prepare to stop by putting up signs that the intersection is photo-enforced.

Black shields for the traffic lights at Belcher Road and Gulf-To-Bay Boulevard are also on the list to improve light visibility, and a green light will be changing to a flashing yellow light for drivers attempting to turn left. The department hopes this will help drivers understand that they have to yield to oncoming traffic. The changes will be put in place slowly, starting in the fall of 2015 and continuing into the next year.

Auto-pedestrian accidents can be especially devastating because a pedestrian has little protection against the size and force of the oncoming vehicle. While these changes will be a great improvement, they are unlikely to prevent these types of accidents completely. Victims and their families should understand their options and their rights when it comes to pursuing a civil suit against the at-fault party in a pedestrian accident.

Source: The Suncoast News, “FDOT urges upgrades at deadly Clearwater intersection” Anastasia Dawson, Jul. 18, 2014

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