INDIAN HARBOUR BEACH, Fla. – The speed limit has been lowered and new warning signs have been installed along a stretch of State Road A1A in Brevard County months after the tragic death of a 12-year-old girl.
The speed limit along S.R. A1A, from 11th Avenue to Palmetto Avenue in Indialantic, was reduced early Friday from 40 mph to 35 mph. The speed also dropped from 45 to 35 mph in Satellite Beach, from Palmetto Avenue to State Road 404.
The Florida Department of Transportation has installed Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons at 16 locations “to offer drivers an added alert when a pedestrian is attempting to cross at a designated crosswalk,” officials said in a news release. FDOT crews also installed six in-street pedestrian crossing signs at each of the 16 mid-block crossings along A1A.
Although the FDOT news release made no mention of 12-year-old Sophia Nelson, the changes come about four months after she was hit and killed at a mid-block crosswalk in Satellite Beach.
State Representative Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay) called the crosswalks, “flashing deathtraps.”
This past legislative session, Fine and Nelson’s parents advocated for the passing of “Sophia’s Law” -- changing the yellow lights to red, or removing the crosswalks.
The bill passed the Florida House, but the session ended without passing the Senate.
“You have to turn the flashing yellow lights, red. That is the solution that will save lives, not these band aids,” Fine said.
Brevard County Commissioner Curt Smith said lowering the speed limit is a step in the right direction.
Smith said, ultimately, he wants to see Sophia’s Law pass the legislature.
“You guys showed that in your previous reports (that) people didn’t slow down for those yellow lights. They just didn’t,” Smith said.
Satellite Beach police on Friday pulled over drivers going faster than the new speed limit.
Arin Brunner, who was pulled over, said she was unaware of the change.
“It’s in the first day in effect so thank God I didn’t get a ticket, but going forward I’ll definitely know when I’m over here,” said Brunner, who added that she hopes the new speed limit will be an eye opener for drivers and pedestrians. “I think it’s a good idea only because we do have the crosswalks, but, unfortunately, people are getting injured still."
In spring 2019, FDOT installed pedestrian-activated yellow flashing lights at Satellite Beach midblock crosswalks at Grant Avenue, Ellwood Avenue, Royal Palm Boulevard, Magellan Avenue, Sunrise Avenue and Volunteer Way, reported News 6 partner Florida Today.
On Dec. 22, Nelson was hit by a car while using the mid-road crosswalk at Ellwood Avenue in Satellite Beach when a car failed to stop. Nelson had pressed the button to activate the yellow-flashing lights. After completing the investigation into the crash, the Satellite Beach Police Department determined the driver would not face criminal charges and was issued moving traffic violation.
Following the fatal crash, community members, state lawmakers and the Brevard County Commission called for changes to the crosswalks.