Diverging Diamond Traffic Pattern Assists Traffic Flow

herman and wells
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Diverging Diamond Traffic Pattern Assists Traffic Flow

The “diverging diamond” has many positive believers but still a few skeptics as well.  This type of traffic pattern has been used in 22 states so far, to try to ease traffic congestion in busy intersections.  Florida opened its first Diverging Diamond traffic pattern recently on Interstate 75 along University Parkway.  It was two years in the making.  Motorists have already indicated that back-ups seem to be shorter.  One driver who encountered the new traffic configuration said that, at first it was confusing, but also exciting.  She raised the question of drivers not paying attention, especially in the beginning while still getting accustomed to the new configuration, and worried about getting “side-swiped.”  When all the work has been completed, University Parkway will have six westbound and six eastbound lanes, with extra lanes on I-75.  This construction was part of the I-75 corridor widening project.

Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI)

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has been trying to provide solutions for highly congested traffic areas, while also keeping safety standards in place.  The Diverging Diamond Traffic Pattern is one creative concept that is getting a lot of attention and becoming very popular.  Its features include:

  • It crosses traffic to the left side of the roadway.
  • It allows for left turns at signals, continuing onto access ramps without a crossing conflict.
  • At crossovers, two-phase signals are installed.
  • It reduces crossing conflicts from four (traditional diamond) to two, which, in theory, should reduce the number of accidents.
  • It offers better sight distance.
  • Pedestrian crossings are shorter.
  • Gaining entry to a ramp while going the wrong way is virtually eliminated.
  • It is a low-cost solution because it minimizes the funds needed for the new infrastructure.

The first DDI opened in 2009 in Springfield, Missouri.  Since that time, nearly every state in the United States (and including Puerto Rico) has a DDI that is either operational, in construction, in study, or a few states have even adopted a more advanced design of the system.  There are at least eight DDIs under consideration of implementation in the State of Florida.  When will one appear in Saint Petersburg?

Results

In Charlotte, North Carolina, reports have indicated a 60 percent reduction in accidents since a DDI opened in 2014.  Statistics across the country have had similar results, so it would appear that, overall, the DDI has been met with success.  The best feature of a DDI is that it has a reduced number of traffic conflict points.  The 60 percent number was obtained by looking at periods of nine months before and after the construction of the DDI at Interstate 77’s Exit 28.  In December 2017, the North Carolina DOT is scheduled to let a contract for the construction of another DDI at Exit 23 along I-77.  A number of DDIs have been implemented and still more are being planned in North Carolina.

Impact On Traffic Accidents

The DDI design has the potential to have a very beneficial impact on traffic accidents in St. Petersburg in the future and all around the State of Florida.  Any measures that can be taken to lessen the number of automobile accidents and crashes should be applauded.

If you are involved in an automobile accident, or as a pedestrian trying to cross an intersection, and you have suffered injuries, speak to a personal injury attorney to ensure you know all the courses of action available to you.

 

 


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Is There Really a Need for Speed? — Not While Driving

Driving a vehicle above the set speed limit allowed for a particular street or neighborhood is always a dangerous risk.  The risk is not only to the driver but also to others in his/her path.  You can never tell when a child at play or someone’s pet may dart out in front of your vehicle without looking.  Are people in that much of a hurry?  Is there really a need for speed? — Not while driving.  Is speeding, to get to their destination just a tad earlier (maybe), really worth all the potential grief that could come from a speeding ticket, injuring someone, or plowing into someone’s home?  It surely wasn’t for a recent grad-to-be on Saturday, May 20, in Lakeland, Florida.

Teen Was Speeding And Lost Control 

A 19-year-old driver lost control of his SUV, hit a fence, and went airborne into the bedroom of a mobile home Saturday, May 20.  According to BayNews9.com, he told the fireman who responded that he had been speeding and lost control of his vehicle.  According to a neighbor, who had been badly shaken believing the vehicle was going to careen into her mobile home instead, the young man wasn’t concerned about any potential injuries he might have suffered; he was worried for anyone in the mobile home that he hit.  Fortunately, no one was home at the time of the crash.  The distraught young man told the neighbor that he was to graduate this year.

Speed Busters

Last year, News Channel 8 reported that a former St. Petersburg police officer was very concerned about speeding along 9th Avenue North.  Leslee Lacey of Speed Busters was called in to help.  This area is said to have had a high incidence of speeding for almost three decades.  On 9th Avenue North, the speed limit is 35 mph and radar guns have captured almost double that speed on many separate occasions.  In one six-month period in 2016, the Saint Petersburg Police Department issued 44 speeding tickets between 41st and 49th Streets.

30 Miles Over the Speed Limit

In Florida, penalties for exceeding 30 miles over the posted speed limit can result in an offense of reckless driving, which can result in a fine of $400 or more.  No “breaks” are generally given for offenders driving 30 mph above the posted speed limit.  This level of severity calls for a mandatory court appearance, four points on your driving record, and even a possible suspension of your driver’s license.  These penalties double, of course, if a driver is caught in a construction or school zone.  Again, is it worth it?

Time for Another Speed Study? 

The last speed study for the area between 41st and 49th streets was conducted in 2003, said Mike Frederick with the St. Petersburg’s Department of Traffic Engineering.  Another study was said to be in the works in the near future.  In the meantime, Ben Kirby of the City of Saint Petersburg was going to look at the possibility of having a “solar speed pole” installed on 9th Avenue.

“Your Speed” Signs

Signs drivers see that automatically tell them what speed they are driving can be helpful in speed awareness.  Pole-mounted solar-powered signs have bright characters that are nine inches tall and can be read at a distance of 450 feet.  A great many accidents occur every year due to drivers speeding in residential neighborhoods.  If you or a loved one has been affected by someone else’s “need for speed,” contact a St. Petersburg personal injury attorney to learn what options you may have for justice in such an event.

If you have been a victim of an accident involving a speeding vehicle, contact a Saint Petersburg personal injury attorney to learn your rights.  Medical expenses, recovery time, and lost wages due to time off for such an accident can be costly.


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Recall Of Takata Airbags More Serious For Florida Residents

Drivers of Acura and Honda cars made between 2001 and 2003 face special dangers due to the potential 50 percent humidity that is often an everyday occurrence in South Florida.  These models of cars utilize airbag inflators that have been proven to explode when deployed.  Instead of the intention for which the air bags were designed, to save lives, the vehicles with the Takata airbags can potentially harm, or even kill, the person(s) they were meant to protect.  The recall of Takata airbags is one of the largest in history, and the company’s representatives and government regulators want owners of these cars to stop driving them immediately and have them repaired.  If you have suffered injuries as a result of one of these defective airbags, contact a qualified personal injury attorney to learn what yours rights you have.

SOUTH FLORIDA AT FOREFRONT OF TAKATA AIRBAG RECALL

In January, new and stronger warnings were aimed at the drivers of cars potentially more at risk in Southern Florida.  In fact, South Florida has the highest number of cars at risk and that is primarily due to our tendency toward humid weather.  The cars listed below have airbags with a 50 percent chance of malfunctioning, causing serious harm, injuries, or even death to its occupants.  Several Florida drivers have already been injured and one death has been attributed to the malfunctioning airbag.  Some of the claims say that, “Metal shrapnel shoots out at you … like a grenade going off in your face.”  The defective airbags can shoot metal from the dashboard of your vehicle at a reported 100 miles per-hour; that makes for an extremely severe impact.  How do you know for sure if your car is one that needs to be repaired?  Enter your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the website: Airbagrecall.com.

SUMMER IS NEARING

As summer approaches, Floridians need to take note.  In September 2016, only one in four of the affected vehicles had been repaired.  That equates to approximately 305,000 vehicles out of an estimated 19 million that have been identified with the defective airbags.  The number of cars affected and added to the recall is expected to grow in the next few years.  Southern Florida has been targeted, in particular, as a location where urgent warnings should go out to all drivers of this impending danger.  Cars included in this high priority category include:

  • 2003 Acura CL
  • 2003 Acura TL
  • 2003 Honda Pilot
  • 2002 Honda Civic
  • 2002 Honda Accord
  • 2002 Acura TL
  • 2002 Honda Odyssey
  • 2002 Honda CR-V
  • 2001 Honda Civic
  • 2001 Honda Accord

If you, or anyone you know, own and drive one of these makes of cars, it is imperative that they not be driven any farther until the airbag has been repaired or replaced.  Honda has offered to have the vehicles towed, if necessary, to the nearest facility for repair.

U.S. DOT ACCELERATED REPLACEMENT

In December 2016, the U.S. DOT amended an order for replacement parts for the affected Takata air bags.  This amendment sets forth “requirements for when automakers must have replacement parts available for customers and sets progress and completion deadlines for replacements of the defective parts which have been responsible for 11 deaths and approximately 180 injuries in the United States.”

If you have suffered injuries from a defective product, such as the recall of Takata airbags, contact a personal injury attorney to learn what options you may have to gain reimbursement for medical expenses, and pain, suffering, lost wages and other related expenses.  We come into contact with many products in our daily lives, and, sadly, not all of them were manufactured to the minimal safety standards. Let an experienced personal injury attorney help you understand the courses of action that may be available to you.

 


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Drunk Driver: Over The Legal Limit And Running a Stop Sign

Florida state law sets the legal limit for drivers with alcohol in their system at 0.08 BAC (blood alcohol content).  The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s data for the year 2013 indicated that 31 percent of all traffic fatalities was the result of drunk driving crashes where the driver registered a BAC of 0.08 or higher.  In 2013, on average, every 52 minutes there was a drunk driving accident that ended with a fatality.  Importantly, if you or a loved one have been injured at the hands of a drunk driver in Saint Petersburg, contact a personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the halls of justice. Florida punishes drunk drivers that injure people by awarding what is called punitive damages to the injured person in addition to the usual medical bills, lost wages, incidental damages, pain and suffering. Punitive damages are meant to punish the person who committed a wrongful act.

DRUNK DRIVING INCIDENT ENDS IN TRAGEDY

In February, John Lovett Rutland, Jr. was discovered to have between 0.125 and 0.128 blood alcohol level after he caused the death of a three-year-old boy in an automobile collision.  Rutland Jr.’s own 9-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son were in his vehicle with him at the time.  He had just finished a probationary period for a previous drunk driving incident weeks before.  Obviously, it didn’t take.  He got behind the wheel, drunk, again, ran a stop sign, again, and plowed into a car loaded with children.  Four other children were injured.  Rutland Jr.’s 2001 Camry ran through a stop sign on State Route 674 (also known as College Avenue), crossed into the westbound lanes of a four-lane divided highway, across the median, hit the driver’s side of a 2002 Chevrolet SUV carrying the car load of children.  All were wearing their seatbelts; however, the impact of the collision with the drunk driver was enough to send the three-year-old and a 10-year-old through the windshield.

EYE WITNESS TESTIMONY

Debbie Jasmer, a volunteer EMT with Sun City Emergency, was selling meals from her food truck, Whymama’s Finger Fist and Fork, when the crash occurred.  She saw the SUV flip over several times.  Jasmer performed CPR on the three-year-old until Florida state troopers arrived on the scene.  She tried for eight minutes, and the state troopers tried for 30 minutes more, yet the three-year-old could not be revived.

THE PAST CAN REPEAT ITSELF

Rutland Jr. has a very long history with driving infractions, including careless driving and speeding.  He was also arrested in 2003 for shooting a gun from his car window.  In 2013, he was involved in a lawsuit for auto negligence, in which a settlement of the case was a result.  The lawsuit involved a crash on Bayshore Blvd., in which the victim was seriously injured.

In December 2015, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office reported that Rutland Jr. ran a stop sign in Dover, at the intersection of Gallagher and Wheeler roads.  He also struck three road signs before his vehicle finally stopped.  He failed field sobriety tests and his driver’s license was restricted to business-only travel until December 29, 2016.  The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has now decided to revoke his license entirely for one year, beginning February 23, 2017.

Rutland Jr. is being held without bond.  Under Florida law, “DUI Manslaughter (in conjunction with prior DUI conviction), results in permanent license revocation.  There are no provisions for a hardship license.”  Time will tell the outcome of this particular case; however, the slogan, repeated time and time again, and with very good reason, “Don’t Drink and Drive” is meant to serve a purpose.

 

 


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