Trends Winter 2017 - Page 3

points just a matter of hours. We met our deadline, and everybody did a good job of supporting the cause.” Trowell was the honored guest at a ceremony Aug. 8 recognizing the effort, and County officials had her switch on the signals for the first time. “It’s definitely an amazing feeling because I now know everyone who goes through that intersection and walks through that school zone is much safer,” said Trowell, 15, who is now a freshman at Frank W. Springstead High School in nearby Hernando County. Project Changes Configuration The intersection was redesigned in October 2016 from a T-intersection to a four-way intersection, Bunk said, which included realignment and additional turn lanes. Before the improvements, the intersection did not meet criteria for installing a traffic signal. However, data collected after the improvements did show increased traffic. County staff looked at traffic volume, crash reports, and other data to see if a traffic light was warranted. “The problem we faced was we didn’t have a full year’s worth of crash data to determine if we had a crash problem there,” he said. Trowell felt differently, especially after witnessing a rollover crash that occurred on Shady Hills Road near several students walking to school. That incident spurred her into action. When she approached the Pasco County School District about the possibility of installing a traffic signal in front of the school, she said administrators told her it could take three to four years for such a project to be completed. “I was like, ‘That’s not going to work for me,’ ” she said. “The car flipped into the ditch so close to the students that it could easily have hit one of them. That was the big push for me. … I knew from my civics class that people have the freedom to petition, but how often do older people listen to younger kids? I knew I needed to do something for them to go, ‘Wow. We actually have to listen to her. She actually knows what she’s talking about.’ ” CRASHES ON THE RISE In 2016, Florida’s traffic deaths reached their highest level in many years; more than 3,000 people died on the state’s roadways. Federal, state, and local agencies are well aware of the statistics and are continually striving for ways to improve safety. Total Crashes 395,797 Injury Crashes 165,941 Crashes with Traffic Fatalities 2,936 Total Traffic Fatalities 3,177 Pedestrian Crashes 9,102 Pedestrian Fatalities 667 Bicycle Crashes 6,667 Bicycle Fatalities 140 Source: Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System Fact-Finding Mission Begins With assistance from her father, Tyler, throughout the process, Continued on page 5 Makayla Trowell and her father, Tyler Trowell, were guests of honor at a ceremony in August to switch on the traffic signal, which is shown in the photo at the right. All traffic now can safely cross through the intersection. │3