As presently constructed the I-95 express lanes are deadly. In January of this past year Kaire & Heffernan created an online petition in hopes that the DOT would make the necessary changes to protect the motorists that travel on I-95.
After 20,000 crashes, hundreds of injuries, and multiple deaths, the DOT has agreed that the road as presently constructed is not safe. Shocking!
The DOT will begin replacing the existing poles with a sturdier design along the toll lanes that run between Interstate 836 and the Golden Glades interchange. They will also double the number of poles, reducing the spacing from 10 feet to 5 feet. The new plastic poles, which can take up to 200 hits and still spring back into place, should hold up a lot longer than the existing ones, the Florida Department of Transportation said.
Will DOT’s Actions Make a Difference?
The Florida DOT officials are of the opinion that the tighter spacing and sturdier poles will discourage lane-diving by reducing maneuvering space and sight lines for lane divers checking their mirrors for cars in the next lane before making an illegal cut.
A couple of questions come to mind.
- Why did the DOT wait ten years to switch to sturdier poles?
- Why did the DOT originally place the poles 10 feet apart?
However, the important question is whether the changes will stop lane diving, or will it just make lane diving more dangerous by reducing sight lines. Unfortunately, I think it is the latter, and that is why the poles were originally placed 10 feet apart.
While the new poles are sturdier, they will bend in the same fashion as the old poles. Yes, they are more durable, but at the end of the day, they are nothing more then a safety cone.
Reduced sight lines are not going to suddenly change someone’s behavior. To that end, if a driver had no concern about diving into a fast moving lane from a dead stop, reduced sight lines are not going to be the magical deterrent for that behavior. Conversely, the reduced sight lines may lead to even more accidents. It is actually quite remarkable that the DOT is trying to prevent accidents by REDUCING SIGHT LINES. That is certainly a novel approach.
Creation of Stopping Zones
The second and far more logical part of the project will create five stopping zones along the toll lanes for motorists with car trouble — and, more importantly, for state troopers to safely pull over and ticket violators, something they’ve long been asking for. The 13-foot-wide zones, ranging in length from 1,200 feet to 1,900 feet, will be created by shifting the highway’s concrete dividing barriers. Unfortunately, this part of the project will not begin until January 2017.
The current fine for lane diving and causing serious injuries or death is $179. An increase in the amount of the fine and ability to safely pull over violators is probably a better deterrent then reducing sight lines.