PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — New numbers show deadly collisions have nearly doubled in Pinellas County in the first few months of 2021 versus the same time frame in 2020.
The transportation advocacy group Forward Pinellas tallied up 78 fatalities from January to June in 2021. At the same time in 2020, there were 49 fatal crashes and 53 fatalities. With more people commuting back to the office, transportation leaders worry that number could continue to climb in 2021.
Across the bay, we’re seeing a similar trend. The Hillsborough County Transportation Planning Organization tells ABC Action News so far in 2021 there have been 122 fatal crashes versus 100 for the same period in 2020.
FHP also tallied up their numbers and found overall crashes are up 52% and fatal crashes have increased 13% when compared to the same time frame in 2020.
A large number of the fatalities involve people biking and walking.
“It’s not very surprising, unfortunately. I think we’ve seen from the pandemic that speeding is up, reckless driving is up,” Whit Blanton, the director of Forward Pinellas explained. “I won’t say I’m frustrated but I’m disappointed that we continue seeing the crashes we do.”
ABC Action News went straight to transportation leaders to find out what’s in the works to ensure the roads we all rely on are safe. FHP plans to step up patrols to tackle speeding and reckless driving. There are also projects planned on both sides of the bay to increase lighting and add in crosswalks.
FDOT is also meeting with drivers Monday night to talk about one safety fix: making the medians along US-19 higher to prevent pedestrians from darting across the busy road.
“People are crossing US-19 in places they shouldn’t and they’re risking their life and limb to do that. So if you drive US-19 you may have seen we’ve already put these higher barriers in the section through Pinellas Park and Largo and I think that’s been a great help,” Blanton said.
Transportation leaders say the most crucial part of the equation to reduce fatalities involves all of us doing our part to drive, walk and bike responsibly.