If you were driving on 50th Street on the afternoon of Feb. 7 or trying to exit campus via Holly Drive, you probably sat in traffic for an extended period of time. You possibly saw the police lights and heard the sirens approaching while you sat at a standstill, thinking about all the important things you had yet to do with your day. You most likely saw a police officer directing traffic at the intersection of 50th and Holly while cleanup crews scurried to sweep broken glass and car parts from the street. Maybe you parted the street to allow for an ambulance to pass on its way to University Community Hospital.
I hope you didn’t run over any wreckage when you finally passed through the junction.
That rubble came from my dearly loved Mazda.
Like most people who crash at that site, I was exiting the Excellence Apartments while attempting to cross 50th Street onto campus. Due to the rush hour buildup, my view of the oncoming traffic was obscured. Thinking I had a clear path to Holly, I crossed the southbound lane only to be t-boned by a truck and spin out of control. I finally came to a stop in front of the stop sign on Holly. I was transported to the hospital via ambulance when the paramedics decided that the neck and back pain I was suffering could be dangerous and long term.
However, I’m not the first to fall victim to that intersection.
According to information from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Accident Reporting System provided by the Senior Criminal Intelligence Traffic Analyst, two of the five accidents at that intersection since the beginning of the fall semester were attributed to a violation of right of way, which is what my accident citation reads. Violating right of way in this case means creeping carefully to get a better view of the oncoming traffic. There is really nothing that drivers exiting Holly Drive or Excellence can do but hope that they aren’t misled in believing they’re clear to cross the street when they perceive an empty road.
These kinds of accidents are unavoidable. Anyone who has risked their safety to cross that intersection traveling east or west can testify to the enormous blind spot created by the backed-up traffic.
Forty percent of the accidents at that location since the beginning of the fall semester occurred when individuals attempted to make left-hand turns onto 50th Street. The numbers don’t lie: There is a clear hindrance to the vision of drivers at that spot. When the northbound traffic turning onto Fletcher Avenue backs up to a stand still, it is impossible to see oncoming traffic from the southbound lane until it is too late. With one lane servicing both those who want to turn left and those who want to turn right onto Fletcher, the buildup is inevitable and nearly instantaneous.
Unfortunately, those who live on 50th Street or in the Greek Village must cross that junction on a regular basis. I feel as though I’m endangering my life when I want to go to the grocery store between the hours of 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The police officer who assisted in the accident explained to me while I was in the hospital that because of some legalities, no stop sign can exist at that intersection, but lawfully, there could be a traffic light.
Students, faculty and anyone who risks their cars and lives trying to cross that intersection, I urge you to write letters to the city council, USF’s Parking and Transportation Services, and I urge Student Government to pursue a safer alternative for that street. Parking and Transportation Services can increase our parking permit costs by 20 percent annually for new parking garages, but it cannot put a light at a very dangerous intersection? What’s the point in building new parking garages if people in cars can’t make it safely to campus in the first place?
Anyone who travels that section of campus regularly is accustomed to the car-accident rubble on the street and the backed-up cars spanning half of 50th Street. It is common knowledge around campus that it is a very dangerous and accident-prone area. How many more people have to risk their safety before those in authority wise up to the danger students face and do something about it?
Taylor Williams is a junior majoring in English education.