“U study finds signs displaying highway death tolls lead to more crashes”

“U study finds signs displaying highway death tolls lead to more crashes”

Downloadable graphic from study

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“Many departments of transportation across the United States use roadside electronic message boards to inform drivers how many people have died in traffic crashes for the year.

The idea behind the low-cost attention-grabbing strategy is to get motorists to slow down and drive safely.

Photo: Jonathan Hall, University of Toronto

But results from a study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto published last month in the journal Science found the hard-hitting messages are having an unintended effect: They lead to more crashes.

‘Good intentions do not always lead to good outcomes,’ said Joshua Madsen, an assistant professor at the U’s Carlson School of Management. ‘There is something to suggest it’s backfiring.’

Madsen and Jonathan Hall of the University of Toronto looked at Texas where highway death tolls are advertised one week a month. The researchers collected crash data for 2 1⁄2 years before the sign campaign started in August 2012 and compared the data with the five years that followed.

They found crashes increased 4.5% in the 10 miles immediately after drivers passed a sign during weeks when the grim numbers were posted versus the other weeks of the month when the death count was not. Crashes increased each month as the death toll rose, with the most wrecks occurring in January when the grand total from the previous year was displayed, the study said.

The safety messages contributed to an additional 2,600 crashes — most involving multiple vehicles —and 16 deaths per year in Texas, costing $377 million annually, the study said.

‘Our hypothesis is that people get lost in thought and focus on something other than what they need to focus on,’ Madsen said. The sobering numbers can steal a driver’s attention and adversely impact their ability to respond to changing traffic conditions, Madsen said. ‘It has the ability to distract,’ he said.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has displayed fatality numbers only three times since 2017, said Kristine Hernandez, coordinator of the Minnesota’s Toward Zero Deaths program, which seeks initiatives to eliminate traffic fatalities.

‘We have chosen not to post the fatality number, mostly out of respect for the victims’ family,’ she said. ‘Most people have no idea what the numbers have been, what’s ‘reasonable,’ or what constitutes a need for them to change their behavior…'”

— Tim Harlow, Star Tribune

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Alachua’s Scenic Preservation: “Micanopy’s Tuscawilla Road gets scenic label”

Alachua’s Scenic Preservation: “Micanopy’s Tuscawilla Road gets scenic label”

Photo: Alachua County
” County commissioners voted to designate it as a scenic road, allowing it additional protections and regulations.

Alachua County got its first scenic road designation since 2004 — the county’s sixth overall — Tuesday, with Micanopy’s Tuscawilla Road.

County commissioners voted unanimously to give the designation to the two-lane road between Cholokka Boulevard in the Micanopy town limits and U.S. Highway 441, which brings the road additional protection.

Commissioners also voted on a different motion that would have granted an exception for a planned commercial property, a Dollar General, that would allow trucks weighing more than 25 tons to use the roadway for access. That motion failed 3-2, with commissioners Chuck Chestnut and Mary Alford in favor of the exception.

‘I support the scenic highway, but now I’m not sure of what rights we have to do this,’ Chestnut said of limiting access to the planned business. “So I’m just going to leave my comments at that. I’m not in favor of any other development … but I do feel different about this one because they went through the process and now we’re making it a scenic highway. I just feel fishy about it…’

Tusawilla Road meets several of the criteria for designation, as outlined by the county, including scenic, archaeological and historical significance. Its located about 5 miles south of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, and the location of the Village of Cuscowilla and William Bartram’s visit in 1774.

A Native American preserve is located on the road within town limits and is a protected area, purchased by the Town of Micanopy with state funding. Other research on the Battle of Micanopy documents significant sites on private land in the vicinity, an attraction for tourists.

Whooping cranes, sandhill cranes and gopher tortoises are among some of the wildlife that inhabit the area.

The road has been designated as one segment of a state scenic highway since June 2001.

The designation protects the area along the corridor within 100 feet of the right of way, and any new commercial activity is prohibited within the protected area.

Most outdoor advertising signs and overhead utilities are also prohibited…

There are five other county roads that carry the scenic road designation: Millhopper Road, Fort Clarke Church Road, Crown Road, Old Bellamy Road and Dusty Trail.”

— Emily Mavrakis, The Gainesville Sun

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UPDATE: “Official groundbreaking celebrated for Inlet Beach Underpass”

UPDATE: “Official groundbreaking celebrated for Inlet Beach Underpass”

Photo: Walton County Public Information

“Ground was officially broken on March 26 for a project that had been years in preparation, the Inlet Beach Underpass.

Approximately 100 people attended the event hosted by the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) to mark the start of construction on this $5.6 million state Department of Transportation (DOT) project.

The lighted pedestrian underpass is to go under U.S. 98 on the east side of that highway’s eastern intersection with CR-30A in Inlet Beach, providing for non-interrupted flow of pedestrian access across U.S. 98. Objectives of the project include increasing safety at this busy intersection and mobility of pedestrian and vehicular traffic…

The design will allow entry of pedestrians only, with cyclists able to walk their bikes through the underpass.

Partnering with DOT to make the underpass a reality have been the BCC, the Walton County Tourist Development Council, and Scenic Walton, a nonprofit organization composed of business owners and residents.

Plans are for Scenic Walton to partner with Walton County’s Cultural Arts Association in order for art work to be provided to adorn the underpass when completed…”

— Dotty Nist, Defuniak Herald

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“Friends of A1A launch campaign to fight litter: ‘Pack It In, Pack It Out’ “

“Friends of A1A launch campaign to fight litter: ‘Pack It In, Pack It Out’ “

“The Friends of A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway announced the program ‘Be a Byway Sea Star – Pack It In, Pack It Out’ launching on June 1.

The first pilot program location will be at the River to Sea Preserve along SR A1A, where trash receptacles will be removed from public spaces and visitors will be encouraged to leave no trace by taking their trash with them.

Based on the seven principles of the ‘Leave No Trace’ program used by agencies such as the U.S. National Park Service and municipalities across the nation, the Friends of A1A are aiming to reduce litter along the A1A Scenic Byway coastal corridor’s beaches and waterways…

The program is funded by the Friends of A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway and in part through a competitive grant provided by the Community Foundation of Northeast Florida…

Visit https://scenica1a.org/pack-it-in/ for more details.”

— Danielle Anderson, Palm Coast Observer
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“A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway wins NSBF Byway Community Award”

“A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway wins NSBF Byway Community Award”

Photo: Spoonbills and Sprochets in Palm Coast Observer
“The A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway is a winner of the 2021 National Scenic Byway Foundation’s Byway Community Award for its eighth-annual Spoonbills and Sprockets Cycling Tour – Crazy 8’s event. In its 10th year (2021), the Spoonbills and Sprockets Cycling Tour won in the Event Category. It introduces the byway to new participants while challenging our returning riders to see the byway with fresh eyes through requiring eight selfies of their time along A1A to win prizes.

From photos at the historic Marineland Dolphin Adventure to the Castillo de San Marcos, the Bridge of Lions, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, and south to the beaches and waterways along A1A in Flagler County, riders compared photos and laughed together at the Marineland attraction after-party.

Spoonbills and Sprockets Cycling Tour is an example of a byway best practice that has grown through the cycling community’s support and has developed a reputation for excellence. While keeping the fundamentals in place, adding a new element each year keeps it fresh and fun. From designing custom medals and signature jerseys each year, creating a theme, and wowing our riders with celebrity entertainers and unique activities, it never seems like the same event twice! And SAG/rest stops are at locations along the byway, which correspond to our A1A Scenic Byway Mobile Tour…”

— National Scenic Biway Guest, Palm Coast Observer
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Read more about the A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway

Read more about the National Scenic Byway Foundation

“Volusia County to conserve portion of Ormond Scenic Loop – 71,000 signatures were collected in hopes to save land from development”

“Volusia County to conserve portion of Ormond Scenic Loop – 71,000 signatures were collected in hopes to save land from development”

Photo: Molly Reed, WKMG News 6 Orlando
“Residents who had been fighting to stop planned development along a beloved scenic route in Volusia County have won their battle.

The county council on Tuesday voted to buy 36 acres of historic land on the Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail.

‘The public literally rose up and supported this project,’ Founder of Dream Green Volusia Suzanne Scheiber said.

Scheiber’s organization handed out over 600 yard-signs and collected 71,000 signatures in hopes to save the land from development.

‘If you drive the loop today you can see all of the developments, you can see all the traffic and you can see the loss of wildlife habitat,’ she said.

Scheiber was able to get the developer of the plantation oaks subdivision to sell 36 acres to the county for $988,000. The organization raised money to help with that cost, too.

‘We raised collectively with North Florida Land Trust $26,250,’ she said.

On Tuesday, the council voted to do that, after the county ECHO committee approved the land as historic with portions of Old King’s Road running through it.

‘Old Kings Road was built by the British in the 1700s and it was called an engineering treasure and one of the most important roadways in the growth of Florida,’ Dona Butler with the county’s community services said…”

— Molly Reed, WKMG News 6 Orlando
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Citizens for a Scenic Florida