As we drive up and down I-75 on our daily commutes, we see far too many accidents happening. Unfortunately, many of those accidents are ending in fatalities. In 2010, Florida’s stretch of the national interstate was voted as the 15th deadliest highway in the country. Gainesville and other central Florida drivers have been demanding for modifications to be made to I-75 and sadly, it has taken a countless amount of accident victims to really steer attention towards the issue. The imperative question on the minds of all of Florida’s I-75 drivers is … what is being done to solve the problems with I-75?
Facts about Florida’s I-75
Florida’s I-75 is 482 of the 1,786 miles.
I-75 is located on the west coast of the state.
A continuous drive on the Florida stretch of I-75 would take 7 hours and 32 minutes to complete.
In 2008, there was an average of 1.14 fatal accidents per mile on I-75.
The Eye Opening Accident
In January 2012, one of the deadliest accidents in Florida’s history took place on an area of I-75 called Paynes Prairie, located south of Gainesville. Fog mixed with smoke from a nearby fire forced FDOT to shut down the highway for a brief time period. Once reports were made that visibility had cleared, the highway was reopened. However, drivers were still experiencing limited to no visibility. About 30 minutes after FDOT ordered for the highway to be reopened, drivers were caught in a massive 25 car pileup. The accident killed 11 people and hospitalized 18.
Once the fog cleared the next day, emergency responders were able to see cars crushed by semi-trucks and vehicles burned down to their skeletons. After this awful, easily preventable accident occurred, Floridians started demanding for FDOT to do something about this dangerous stretch of the interstate.
Future Plans for I-75
As a direct result of the accident from 2012, thermal cameras are set to be installed in the Paynes Prairie area. Twelve thermal imaging cameras will be placed every mile between Gainesville and Marion County lines. These heat-based cameras generate imaging even in poor driving conditions and will be monitored by traffic managers.
In addition to the thermal cameras, eight sensors will be installed in the problematic area to monitor visibility. The project which is set to be completed in early 2015 will cost $2 million. Once the cameras are installed in Paynes Prairie, the FDOT will look into implementing the project in an area of I-4.
Although it is not in the works yet, state highway officials predict I-75 will need 16 lanes going through Gainesville by 2035 due to the constant increase in traffic. Much of this traffic is being attributed to the University of Florida’s game day traffic.
The I-75 Challenge Campaign
The Florida Highway Patrol is partnering with Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia in the I-75 Challenge Campaign. The goal of the campaign is to reduce traffic fatalities by 15 percent this year. Highway patrol has targeted on particular issues that seem to be the cause of many of these fatal accidents. There will be four enforcement periods in which there will be increased visibility of law enforcement on the highway stretching through the six states. Law enforcement has forewarned that they will be showing offenders zero tolerance during these implementation periods.
June 27 – June 29: Motorcycle safety
September 26 – September 28: Occupant protection
December 26 – 28: Impaired driving
Construction on I-75
In an effort made by the FDOT to make other areas of I-75 less accident-prone, many construction projects are in the works or have been recently completed. Many of these projects involve the widening of the interstate. These are a few of the prominent interstate renovations.
Between State Roads 54 and 56 near Tampa: The widening of this 4-mile stretch of I-75 was meant to cause fewer accidents. There have been fewer accidents after construction but the accidents that do occur happen to be more severe and fatal.
State Road 44 exit in Sumter County: This exit has proven itself to be very dangerous and in need of renovation. Drivers must cut across two lanes of merging traffic from the turnpike to get off at the exit. FDOT recognized that a change was needed and has planned a three-part project that will help the flow of traffic in this area.
University Parkway and I-75 interchange near Sarasota: This is a heavily congested area of I-75 resulting in major traffic delays and accidents. This construction is the start of many other projects in the area to reduce similar problems.
If you are ever involved in an automobile or motorcycle accident on I-75, our attorneys can help. With over 30 years of experience, we have fought for a countless amount of accident victims and we are well-equipped to assist you, too. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.