SPRING HILL, Florida - A 10 News investigation that revealed short yellow lights at a dangerous intersection in Hernando County has yielded results.
Traffic department employees have begun re-calibrating the timing of every traffic light in Hernando after the 10 News Investigators pointed out it took barely three seconds for the lights at Landover Blvd. and Mariner Blvd. to turn from green to red. It has since been changed to 4.8 seconds.
The red-light overlap at the intersection has also been extended, from 1 second to approximately 2 seconds.
When Cecilia Diaz, 75, was killed by a red-light runner on December 23 - the second fatality at the intersection in less than a month - the 10 News Investigators pulled out their stopwatches.
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Hernando County's Director of Transportation Services, Brian Malmberg, indicated many of the traffic lights in the county were calibrated to old standards, such as the Landover/Mariner intersection, which was last calibrated in 2005.
Malmberg said because of new engineering formulas and new information from 10 News, county staff would take a four-step approach toward addressing the concerns:
- Identify/Verify: staff will print out the current clearance times for every traffic signal in the county. The Traffic Engineering Coordinator will review each intersection for compliance with standards based on speeds and common geometry. Signalized intersections will be then grouped into one of three categories: deficient, suspect, or current. Deficient intersections will receive immediate attention, suspect intersections will be studied by a consulting engineer, and current intersections have recently been studied by staff and reviewed by the FDOT, therefore require no further action.
- Immediate Action: County Staff will calculate improved clearance times based on institutional knowledge of approach speeds, intersection geometrics, common distances, and signal phasing. The clearance times will be based on FDOT tables and Institute of Traffic Engineers (ITE) formulas, with pedestrian clearance times derived from the 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). These clearance times will be inputted and confirmed by the Senior Signal Specialist.
- Standards Compliance: All signalized intersections with deficient or suspect clearance times are to be addressed by a consulting engineer with professional traffic engineering experience. They will provide signed and sealed documentation of clearance times to current federal and state standards. The implementation (inputting) will be by county staff with the Signal System Specialist confirming all entries.
- Standards Maintenance A: The Signal System Specialist will facilitate all documentation. The original signed and sealed documents will be kept in a binder in the Traffic Control Center (TCC). A hardcopy will be placed in each intersection file and in each traffic signal controller cabinet. A scanned copy will be maintained on the county server and the programmed timings on the backup signal system computer. The Signal System Specialist will verify the clearance timings for each intersection on a quarterly basis. New log sheets will be implemented for all traffic signal controller cabinets. Specific department policies will be implemented requiring name, date, time, purpose, and signature on entry into any traffic signal controller cabinet. Whenever a controller is changed, the Signal System Specialist is to be notified for clearance time verification.
Malmberg added that red-light camera (RLC) intersections in Brooksville did not need recalibration since the timing was appropriately updated recently - and approved by FDOT - when the cameras were installed.
Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) would not comment on whether yellow lights were factors in the Dec. 23 or Nov. 30 fatal accidents, but 10 News' findings were incorporated into the FHP reports, which are still open and active.
In the last three years, FHP has investigated nine crashes with injury or roadblock at the intersection, three hit & run crashes, and two fatalities.
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