PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - Lowering speed limits on the highways is a new solution being considered by FDOT to decrease the number of pedestrian crashes.
As part of the “Complete Streets” initiative, which makes roads safer for bikers and walkers, FDOT could consider a change to speed limits. Currently, most state roads are designed for speed limits between 40-45 MPH. With the new designs, speed limits could go as low as 25 MPH, especially in urban areas where a lot of people walk, bike, run etc.
FDOT says studies show that only one out of 10 pedestrians survive when they get hit by a car going 40 mph. Five out of 10 survive when the car is going 30 mph and nine out of 10 survive if they’re hit by a car going 20 mph.
It’s too early for the Florida Department of Transportation to speculate which highways in Tampa Bay would be candidates for a speed reduction, but Stephen Benson, FDOT’s government liaison administrator, says in the near future rural areas won’t be designed the same as those in urban areas to accommodate unique needs and uses.
Speed limits, he says, can make a big impact on the outcomes of crashes. “When people drive slower, it improves safety. If we don’t design roads like a highway, they won’t drive on the roads like a highway.”
FDOT is also looking at reducing the width of driving lanes by 10 feet and increasing sidewalk width from 5 feet to as much as 12 feet in areas with a lot of walkers.
What do you think about changing the speed limit on some major FDOT highways in Tampa Bay? FDOT wants to hear from you from now until July 31. You can comment on the plan here: www.flcompletestreets.com.