Motor vehicles are America’s lifeblood, and the roads and highways are the vessels. With over 160,000 miles of highway alone crisscrossing the country, it’s safe to say that we are a nation of drivers. And when it comes to individual states, Florida relies on cars, trucks, and other vehicles more than most. In fact, the state has more registered vehicles than most states, trailing only California and Texas.
If you live or work in the St. Petersburg area, you may have an idea of what roads and highways are more prone to accidents. But even locals may not know all the danger areas on the city’s streets, and in some cases, not knowing can end up causing real harm. Here are some of the most dangerous stretches of highway, city streets, and residential roads that you need to look out for while driving in and around St. Petersburg.
The Most Dangerous St. Petersburg Roads
In 2017, a number of government entities and private groups released the Vision Zero Strategy Plan. The goal of the plan was to identify the St. Petersburg area’s deadliest roads and highways and take steps to make them safer. After analyzing auto accident data over a period of four years, they published a list of the most dangerous St. Petersburg roads.
Interstate 4, The Most Dangerous Road in Florida
Interstate 4 is quite simply the most dangerous road in Florida. More shockingly, it is also the single most dangerous road in the entire United States. The numbers back this up. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), keeps track of all auto crashes across the United States and paints a bleak picture. The data shows that I-4 has the highest fatality ratio of all interstate highways with 1.25 fatalities per mile. While there are many accidents along all segments of the highway, the most dangerous stretch runs from Lakeland to Orlando. Since 2016, 775 crashes have occurred on that section of I-4 alone.
Most Dangerous Roads in Pinellas County
With a population over 250,000 and its location on Florida’s beautiful west coast, St. Petersburg is the fifth-most populous city in Florida and the jewel of Pinellas county. The city can boast over 350 days of sunshine a year, along with its beautiful beaches and diverse collection of tourist attractions. But an eclectic mix of tourists unfamiliar with the area, poorly maintained roads, and crowded roads and highways make Pinellas county the perfect storm for auto accidents.
U.S. Route 19
Despite various Interstate Highways in the vicinity, US-19 remains a well-traveled thoroughfare for long-haul truckers and travelers. According to NHTSA crash data, 8 out of the top 25 most dangerous intersections in the county are on this stretch of concrete and asphalt. Intersections with high accident and fatality rates along US-19 include:
- US-19 and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard in Clearwater
- US-19 and Tampa Road in Palm Harbor
- US-19 and Curlew Road in Dunedin
Other Dangerous Roads
Coming in close behind US-19 are I-275 and Ulmerton Road, which are also notorious driver danger traps. Pinellas tops all other counties in Florida in fatality rate, with a staggering 4.57 deaths per mile. Rounding out the list for the most dangerous roads in Pinellas are Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and South Belcher Road in Clearwater, Park Boulevard and Starkey Road, and 66th Street and Ulmerton Road.
Dangerous Roads for Pedestrians
Auto accidents are more frequent than pedestrian collisions, but sadly the latter are usually more deadly. If a street or road sees a lot of foot traffic, the likelihood of one of these incidents increases exponentially. Poor signage and lighting, no clear crosswalks or crosswalk signals, and higher speed limits puts people at more risk of suffering serious injuries or even dying. According to Smart Growth America's "Dangerous By Design" report, Florida tops the list as the state most dangerous for pedestrians. In addition, data showed that Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater metro area ranked 9th amongst the most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians.
That’s not all. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Florida has the highest rate of fatalities per 100,000 residents, making it the most deadly state for pedestrians. Many of the most dangerous stretches of road in St. Petersburg were originally paved over 50 years ago, when the surrounding area looked quite different. None of these streets were designed with pedestrian safety in mind, and failure to adapt had deadly consequences. Pedestrians including joggers should always be alert when traveling on, walking beside, or crossing any street. If you don’t pay attention, the consequences could be deadly.
Safe Travels through St. Petersburg
Accidents happen. But while some may be inevitable, none are routine. Floridians that navigate St. Petersburg’s roads and highways face that risk every time they get behind the wheel, so they need to be vigilant. If you do find yourself in an auto accident and are unsure of how to proceed, a consultation from a personal injury attorney is a good place to start.