Only 20 accidents — none fatal — recorded at intersection of Beach Road and Midnight Pass Road on Siesta Key between 2017 and 2022

County staff has touted need to improve safety as reason for planning roundabout at the location

Over the past few years, as he has talked about the plans for a single-lane roundabout at the intersection of Midnight Pass Road and Beach Road on Siesta Key, Sarasota County Public Works Director Spencer Anderson has emphasized traffic engineers’ assertions that roundabouts are a much safer transportation option than an intersection with a traffic signal.

He repeated that point on May 4, as he discussed the project with members of the Siesta Key Association (SKA) during their monthly meeting: “It is going to improve safety at the intersection.”

Anderson further stressed that roundabouts “reduce the specific points of conflict” among drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

The last time Anderson discussed the roundabout plans with the County Commission — on March 21 — Commissioner Mark Smith asked him for accident data recorded for the Beach Road/Midnight Pass Road intersection, which is close to Siesta Public Beach Park and Fire Station No. 13.

Smith pointed out that he has lived on the Key nearly 30 years, but he could not recall any accidents occurring in that intersection. Anderson told Smith that he would have to obtain the statistics and provide them to Smith.

This week, The Sarasota News Leader obtained a copy of the data through a public records request. The incidents the report referenced were for the years 2017 through 2022.

The total number of crashes logged during that period, the report noted, was 20. None of them involved fatalities or serious injuries, the report said. Only two injuries were counted altogether, a chart showed, and it pointed out that neither was incapacitating.

The report also had a category for Possible Injury, with a count of two.

One incident did involve a person on a bicycle, the report showed.

As for crash types: The report listed the following:

  • One angle crash.
  • Four left-turn crashes.

None of the incidents involved a right turning movement, the chart said.

Yet another segment of the report referenced data collected for the Strategic Highway Safety Plan. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) explains that that statewide plan “provides a framework for eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads. This SHSP:

  • “Introduces the Safe System approach, which acknowledges that humans make mistakes, the human body is vulnerable, and that we should design and operate our transportation system to ensure that if crashes do occur they do not result in serious human injury.
  • “Recognizes the complexity of crashes and categorizes emphasis areas into three components: roadway; road user, including demographics and mode of travel; and road user behavior.
  • “Expands our strategies beyond the 4Es of traffic safety: Engineering, Education, Enforcement, and Emergency Response to include the 4Is: Information Intelligence, Innovation, Insight into Communities, and Investments and Policies.”

The Florida Strategic Highway Safety Plan document, available through FDOT, adds, “The personal and societal costs of traffic crashes in Florida today are unacceptably high. More than 3,100 Florida residents and visitors die in a crash each year, and about 18,000 are seriously injured. Crashes involving fatalities, serious injuries, and property damage also take a toll on our quality of life, economy, and impede the efficiency and reliability of our transportation system.”

The chart in the accident data that county’s Public Works Department staff provided to the commissioners lists these details:

  • Eight incidents within the Beach Road/Midnight Pass Road intersection.
  • Five reports of speeding/aggressive driving.
  • Six incidents in which the driver was age 65 or older.
  • Four lane departures that resulted in accidents.
  • Four incidents in which drivers ages 15 to 19 were involved.
  • One distracted driving accident.
  • One incident involving a commercial vehicle.

None of the accidents involved impaired drivers or motorcycles, the chart showed.

Further, from 2017 through 2022, the year in which the highest accident count was recorded was 2018. The number was eight. Of those, six involved property damage only; one included a possible injury; and another included a non-severe injury.

The second-highest total was logged in 2021: five. All of those were property-damage-only incidents.

Two incidents were reported in 2019; one, with a possible injury; the other, with a non-severe injury.

Three property-damage-only accidents were recorded in 2020, and one accident was logged both in 2017 and 2022, the bar graph showed.

Yet another graph noted that October was the worst month for accidents, but the total was only four.

Both April and June saw a total of three incidents.

No incidents were recorded in January or August of any of the six years.

During his May 4 presentation to Siesta Key Association member, Anderson of Public Works said staff anticipates that, this summer, it will advertise for construction bids for the roundabout project, which is scheduled to start in the late spring of 2024, after the height of tourist season. Staff also expects the project to take seven months to complete, he added. “That’s all weather-dependent, of course.”

Traffic flow will be maintained at all times while construction is underway, Anderson pointed out.

He did acknowledge that the majority of SKA members have not been fans of the proposal, preferring instead that a signalized intersection remain in place. At the outset of his presentation, he laughingly said, “Everyone’s looking forward to this.”

Showing the members a schematic of the roundabout, Anderson added, “This is the optimum design for an intersection at this location.”

The roundabout also will improve traffic flow through the area, he noted.

The design does incorporate an extra, dedicated left-turn lane for drivers heading south on Beach Road who wish to proceed north on Midnight Pass Road.

1 thought on “Only 20 accidents — none fatal — recorded at intersection of Beach Road and Midnight Pass Road on Siesta Key between 2017 and 2022”

  1. The main benefit in my opinion, is improvement in the traffic flow. Driving through the roundabouts on 41 from Gulfstream through 10th Street is now SO much easier than constant stop and go at traffic lights. Same story with the roundabouts on Honore.

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