PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Law enforcement officers are teaming up with students to tackle roadway safety across the Bay Area. With statistics at hand, police believe more can be done to make commuting safer for both drivers and pedestrians.

It’s something we do nearly every single day: commute by car, foot or bike to get to where we need to be. But it’s not always safe travels and Pinellas Park police are partnering with researchers at the University of North Florida to tackle the issue. UNF recevenly received a grant to the sum of $26,000 from the Florida Department of Transportation. Pinellas Park Police Department plants to contract with the university to provide those statistical data services. 

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Sargeant Shea with the Pinellas Park Police Department says with such a highly populated county and city, traffic enforcement is a primary focus. “Everything we do is tracked: statistics on how many people we stopped, the violations we’re observing, the locations we’re observing. And we will provide the services, then they will collect the data and perform statistical analysis.”

According to research on pedestrian danger index, Florida ranked number one in 2019 for top twenty most dangerous cities for walking in the United States. (source: SmartGrowthAmerica.org)

Pinellas County ranks in the top 25 counties in the state, according to the department’s statistics, for traffic crashes that result in serious and fatal injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists. “Our last bicycle fatality was actually March 7th of 2020. Our most recent serious bodily crash, which actually involved a wheelchair was back in November of 2020 and our last pedestrian fatality was in June of last year as well,” said Sgt. Shea.

But what separates Pinellas County from others, Sargeant Shea says, is the population increase leading to heavier traffic patterns. “It varies hours of the day, not just during daytime. So, we have to keep that in mind. With that, there’s also going to be a higher population on foot and bicycle traffic.” But as part of the initiative funded by the Department of Transportation, officers won’t just be looking to stop motorists not paying attention. “They’re going to be stopping those pedestrians and bicyclists that violate the specific state statutes pertaining to their travel on the roadway as well.”

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Researchers will also study the statistical data of the crash itself to find out whether or not the county’s efforts have an effect on the crash and potentially reducing them. “That’s the ultimate goal: to reduce the number of crashes, because you never know when one of those could ultimately be a fatal crash. Every life matters here.”

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