Early in the morning on Saturday, August 27, before most students had begun their day, two construction workers were involved in a collision on North Boulevard that resulted in the loss of a life.
This is not the first time an accident has occurred on UT’s campus that endangered the life of another person. Sophomore Emily Ennis was involved in an accident last spring as she was walking to grab a snack from Metro Mart across the street from campus. On her way there, Ennis was hit by a car.
“I was looking right, when suddenly I heard brakes squealing. I look left just seconds in time. I saw a car coming my direction on Kennedy, and a car turning left onto North Boulevard,” Ennis said. “I woke up laying half in the street.”
The injuries that Ennis sustained forced her to leave Tampa for the remainder of the semester to recover. She had broken her left arm as well as sustained serious tissue damage from the accident. From April, when the accident occurred, through July, she remained in bed recovering. Ennis was able to return to UT this fall to continue her studies.
Tampa Bay’s roads rank second only behind Orlando as the “most dangerous places to walk,” according to a 2014 study done by Smart Growth America. In 2015, Hillsborough county set a new record for pedestrian deaths with 51, up from 34 in 2015.
The study, called Dangerous By Design, stresses that design of roadways play a valuable role in road safety.
A UT, sophomore government and world affairs major and local road safety activist Kevin O’Hare took to Facebook to share his thoughts on UT’s road safety and the incident that occurred on North Boulevard. In a Facebook post regarding the accident on August 27, O’Hare writes “Fatal Moped accident on N. Blvd last night on campus. Ongoing investigation. Kills me to see this so early – but it is fair to note this road has 2 student crosswalks and had speed limit of under 30. User education and enforcement is needed to prevent preventable deaths.”
O’Hare is the Communications Director for Walk Bike Tampa, an advocacy group for safe pedestrian and cycling routes.
Students can go to Plan Hillsborough and the Florida Department of Transportation websites for information. The information on these websites allows students and other Tampa Bay residents to educate themselves on pedestrian safety in and around UT’s campus and downtown Tampa. On the Walk Bike Tampa website there are ways for community members to reach out and share their concerns and suggestions for a safer commute, such as attending meetings or contacting the organization directly.
“I know for example when I am walking downtown and it is our turn to walk and people don’t stop,” said Rose Jabbour, a junior entrepreneurship student. “So maybe they should have police and make sure that they actually stop. I mean [not stopping is] illegal.”
Despite ideas, such as adding speed bumps, stop signs, or decreasing the speed limit, presented by students and local Tampa organizations aimed at reforming traffic patterns and increasing pedestrian safety, Tampa’s roads remain some of the most dangerous in the nation.
Anne Merrill can be reached at Anne.Merrill@spartans.ut.edu