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FDOT rolls out new signals to keep pedestrians safe

Intersections might look a lot different in the future
Posted at 6:42 PM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 18:42:16-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — As the number of pedestrian-car crashes continues to climb in Tallahassee, 15 people have died since the start of 2020 in Leon County, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

"Guess and pray and hope…"

Sila Miller is talking about life before accessible pedestrian signals. Miller is blind, using a cane to cross the street.

She depends on audible alerts at intersections telling her to stop or go. Technology is now being deployed by the Florida Department of Transportation at more intersections across the state.

"With the more, the intersections develop and the more complicated they get it's more of a challenge," said Miller.

Electric vehicles are virtually silent, making it difficult for the visually impaired to hear them stopping or accelerating. To get ahead of this, FDOT is making sure pedestrians and drivers are more aware by putting up new yield signs at lights to alert drivers like one at the intersection of Apalachee Parkway and Magnolia Drive.

A constant beep will help people like Miller find where to press the button to cross. Even though the blind are trained on how to read and check traffic it's still up to drivers to follow the law.

"It's very important to our safety," Miller said.

According to FDOT, fatal pedestrian crashes have been on the rise in Leon County. There have been 97 so far this year, four of them fatal.

They're taking a targeted approach to get every intersection equipped with new audible and visual signals aiming for busier intersections, first. Secretary of Transportation, Kevin Thibault, says they're working together with law enforcement to reach their goal: zero injuries, zero fatalities.

"Hey we got to do something right now at this intersection and we'll do it," said Thibault. "But clearly these are going to be deployed everywhere, we can put these everywhere."

FDOT says they're also working on doing more across the state to slow drivers down with more elevated crosswalks and visually narrower roads plus adding more visual and audible warnings on-ramps for wrong-way drivers.

Highlighting how important safety is for the blind and visually impaired. This Friday is White Cane Safety Day, a day dedicated to recognizing and raising awareness for so many who use a white cane to walk every day.