Middleton High students were schooled in pedestrian safety Wednesday, a day after two teens walking to the school were struck by a car while crossing a busy roadway under review by state transportation officials.
The sisters, ages 14 and 15, were hit and injured about 7:15 a.m. Tuesday at Hillsborough Avenue at 25th Street, Tampa police said. The older girl was hospitalized in critical condition. It was dark and the time and the girls were not walking in marked crosswalks, police said.
It was not the first time a Middleton student was struck at the same spot. A student was killed crossing at 26th Street in October 2011.
Middleton held a student assembly Wednesday to “urge students to follow basic pedestrian and traffic safety precautions,” the Hillsborough County school board said.
Jason Jackman from the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research, a recognized expert in pedestrian and bicycle safety, took part in the presentation.
Meantime, the Florida of Department of Transportation said it will look at what some believe has become a problem area for young pedestrians. FDOT will “review crash data, conduct pedestrian counts (and) study the area for a signal,” agency spokeswoman Kris Carson said in a prepared statement.
There are crosswalks on Hillsborough at 22nd and 30th streets, a few blocks away on either side of where the girls were hit Tuesday. However, residents in the neighborhood have said many students from nearby Meridian Pointe apartment complex opt for the shorter distance to Middleton, which is just south of Hillsborough.
That area of Hillsborough (U.S. 41/92) has six lanes of traffic with a speed limit of 45 mph.
Carson said FDOT will also work with police and the Hillsborough County school board during the review. No timetable for the review was available.
“We focus on the three E’s: engineering, education and enforcement,” she said. “Safety needs to be a three-pronged approach including working with law enforcement, getting our WalkWise (pedestrian) education programs out to the community, and making engineering changes where we can.”
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, members said the district should look at working with law enforcement to come up with a campaign centered around pedestrian safety. Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said she will look into what can be done and report back to the board.