To help keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe, the Clearwater City Council recently accepted a High Visibility Enforcement Grant from the Florida Department of Transportation. Police plan to use the $29,036 grant to enforce pedestrian and bicycle traffic regulations, tbnweekly.com reported.
Drivers may fail to see pedestrians or not be watching out for pedestrians at an intersection and cause an accident. Some accidents involving pedestrians are caused by the unsafe actions and impaired judgment of pedestrians themselves, the police department said in a memo to the council. “Failure to cross at traffic signals or designated crosswalks has been cited as one of the major causes of pedestrian fatalities,” the memo said.
The memo called for educating pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists about the rules of the road and the importance of following them.
Traffic accidents in Clearwater killed two pedestrians and injured 50 others between October 1, 2012, and September 29, 2013. In the same time period, five bike riders were killed and 46 were injured. In addition, there were 190 collisions between pedestrians and bicyclists.
Statewide in 2012, traffic accidents killed 476 pedestrians and 122 bicyclists, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those deaths accounted for about 25 percent of all traffic deaths in Florida that year. Nationally, pedestrian and bicyclist deaths made up about 16 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2012.
Clearwater plans to use the grant money to create a six-month program of education and enforcement. About 15 police officers with special training in traffic enforcement will focus their efforts in 11 problem locations.
Clearwater police will also be teaming up with several traffic and safety organizations, including the Traffic Engineering Division, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Council members singled out the area between the marina and South Beach, where pedestrians frequently try to beat the traffic.
“I’m surprised that nobody has been hit yet, Vice Mayor Paul Gibson said. They seem to think that they’re immune from being hit.”