Essay #21 How Can Pinellas County Reduce Automobile Accidents?

Pinellas County could reduce the number of auto accidents per year by modifying its traffic light system to be safer and more effective. Traffic lights in the county have seen vast improvements over the 2000s; the Intelligent Transportation System implemented in the early 2000s have significantly decreased accidents. From 2004-2005, before the implementation of the Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS), and from 2007-2008, once the ATMS were implemented, rear-end collisions decreased by approximately 231 accidents on both US 19 and SR 60.1 While this was a huge step forward in reducing the number of auto accidents in the

county, there is still an average of 77 accidents per day in the county?, and the roads can be made safer. To reduce the number of accidents per year, Pinellas County should increase the amount of time between red lights, adding an extra 5 seconds of all lanes of traffic having a red light, and adding red light cameras at every light in the county, with a heavy fine imposed on drivers who run the red light. The addition of an extra 5 seconds being added to the red light, where there would be no traffic moving across the intersection, could help to decrease the number of auto accidents in Pinellas County. It could decrease the number of crashes caused by people turning, or by people speeding to try to make a left-hand turn before the light turns red. Accident statistics from the county highlight the danger of intersections and the crashes that occur. In 2015 alone, there were 745 crashes in intersections that resulted in serious injuries, and 16 that resulted in fatalities”. This highlights the need for safer intersections in Pinellas County, which can be achieved through the extra time during a red light.

Further highlighting this are the statistics that in 2015, 600 crashes were caused by improper turning, 654 by running a red-light, and 3238 by failing to yield right-of-way.4 While there is no data about whether all of these accidents took place because of red-lights, it still highlights a need for Pinellas County to work towards having safer intersections. I have personally seen hundreds of people make a turn across traffic once the light is red and the other lanes of traffic have the right-of-way, which can be fatal. This, coupled with the addition of red-light cameras, could help to make traffic intersections safer with less risk of an accident occurring. The addition of red-light cameras could dissuade people from running red lights, as the imposition of a heavy fine would discourage people from taking the risk.

As of 2017, only three red light cameras are in Pinellas County’, so there are no fines imposed at the majority of red lights in the county. National studies have shown that red light cameras reduce the number of crashes by 20-30%”, so the addition of more cameras to Pinellas County intersections could reduce the number of auto accidents that occur.

This essay was submitted by:
Lauren Elizabeth of St Petersburg High School
Attending: Florida State University
Course of Study: Exploratory Major (to decide between Biology or International Affairs)
Awards and Accolades: Participant in the 2019 University of Florida Student Science Training Program, St. Petersburg High School Academic Letter, St. Petersburg High School Varsity Letter, Captain of the St. Petersburg High School Debate Team 2017-2018

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