Crashes down by three-quarters at Florida Turnpike Miami toll points following all-electronic conversion
By Peter Samuel
Crashes are down drastically at the Miami toll points of Florida's Turnpike since their conversion to all-electronic tolling (AET) February 19 this year. Five former mainline toll plazas (one a split plaza) went completely freeflow and cashless in the conversion. Previously they'd had open road tolling (ORT) through the middle but cash toll booths to the sides of the mainline plazas.
16pa vs 62pa
According to a table from FDOT's press office in the year before AET there were 62 crashes in the half mile of roadway centered on the five toll points (a quarter mile each direction.)
In the first half-year since the conversion there have been 8 crashes or 16/year - a 74% reduction.
Half year on half year the reduction is 8 vs 33 or 76%.
Safety always a major objective
Sonyha Rodriguez Miller there says that safety has always been a primary consideration in the move for AET.
Reduced delays and reduced toll collection costs have been major arguments, too, for eliminating cash collection.
Announced as "also" enhancing safety
The original announcement of the project 27 months ago said on the rationale for AET:
"All-electronic tolling is the most efficient way to collect tolls because it adds vehicle capacity at toll plazas and roadways, while reducing the cost of collecting the tolls.
"It also enhances safety by eliminating conflicts between motorists stopping to pay cash and those traveling at high speeds through the SunPass lanes.
"Benefits to the environment are significant -- lower vehicle emissions and reduced fuel consumption." (News Release 2009-08-07)
Most plaza crashes minor, but...
Most toll plaza crashes are minor 'fender benders' in conjunction with stopping and lane changes, but occasionally there are more serious incidents. Even the smaller ones are disruptive and a nuisance.
Cash collection has also gone from the 23 ramp toll points along this southern section of the Turnpike, but the accident data only cover the mainline ORT+cash to AET conversion.
Southern portion or HEFT
This is the 47 mile, 75km belt route around the western and northwestern edges of the greater Miami area and is the busiest and widest segment of the 309 mile, 497km Turnpike, much of it with 3 or 4 lanes each direction. It is the far southern segment of Florida Turnpike officially called the Homestead Extension with the acronym HEFT (Homestead Extension of Florida's Turnpike) but this name is less used popularly than once.
The AET conversion involves civil works by MCM, a Miami company with Raytheon doing the electronics and systems - project cost $58m.
Previously this section had open road electronic tolling through the middle with cash lanes to the right sides. It was one of the first open road toll (ORT) projects in the US back in 2001 in a TransCore installation.
Next AET to drive north
The next conversion to AET will be 12 miles, 20km from the Golden Glades interchange to I-595 in Ft Lauderdale by summer 2013.
Third conversion will be from the I-595 36 miles, 57km to the Lantana plaza, Palm Beach County, including the 23 mile Sawgrass Expressway FL839 in Broward County by early 2015.