State transportation officials are calling for improvements at a Pinellas County intersection where a school crossing guard was struck and killed by a speeding car.
The Florida Department of Transportation has issued a preliminary report calling for safety upgrades, including better pavement markings, new signs for pedestrians and installation of traffic signals with a flashing yellow arrow for left turns, the St. Petersburg Tribune reported recently.
The Department of Transportation estimates that about 38,000 vehicles pass through the intersection every day. There have been 153 traffic accidents there in the past five years, including 68 rear-end collisions and 39 angled collision, involving a driver making a turn.
Crossing guard Doug Carey was working at the intersection at Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Belcher Road on May 20 when he was struck by a car that allegedly ran a red light while going about 70 mph – 30 mph over the speed limit. Carey’s was the only fatality, but 13 other accidents that caused “incapacitating injuries” and 13 involved pedestrians and bicyclists, the St. Petersburg Tribune reported.
Carey, a retired police officer, was remembered fondly in the Clearwater area.
“Here’s a guy who spent 20 years of dedicated service, comes back to work to help these kids cross the intersection, and he gets killed today because some guy ran a red light,” Clearwater Police Chief Anthony Holloway told television station WFLA.
DOT officials and law enforcement officers surveyed the intersection in early in July. Clearwater officials knew the intersection was dangerous, but Carey’s death spurred them to finally take action.
A yellow arrow for left turns will remind drivers to wait for oncoming traffic, a DOT spokesperson told the St. Petersburg newspaper. Currently, some left-turning drivers grow impatient after they get a green light or don’t realize they have to yield, the spokesperson said.
The DOT will also be reviewing when the signals change and adding signs farther away to give drivers more warning that the intersection is photo enforced. In addition, black shields will be added behind the traffic lights to cut down on glare, which is a major problem, according to the DOT.
State Rep. Ed Hooper of Clearwater praised the DOT’s responsiveness to the problems at the intersection. He said the DOT’s actions reflect its concerns for the safety of citizens.
Some improvements to the intersection could be completed by next year; however, it will probably be several years before more extensive safety features are added.