Is there a solution to West Palm Beach's high rate of pedestrian accidents?
With the emergence of vehicle safety technology and reiterated cautionary slogans, you would think the roads in West Palm Beach would be safer. But that is not the case, especially among pedestrians.
So what is driving the unusually high rate of traffic crashes (many of which are fatal)?
One particular incident recently raised safety concerns among people who live and work near South Dixie Highway, according to an article in WPTV.
A hit-and-run crash on the 7500 block of S. Dixie Highway left a 29-year-old man dead. Residents and workers in the area cite speeding cars as the biggest threat to pedestrians crossing in that area.
One employee of Joshua Tree Thrift Store tells WPTV she has witnessed pedestrian accidents on the same stretch of the roadway.
”You’d think, it’s Dixie. It’s not the [interstate] highway. I mean they’re going 55 mph,” she said. “I’ve seen three accidents right here.”
According to West Palm Beach police statistics from December 1, 2018 to June 19, 2019, approximately 53 hit-and-run crashes were investigated.
The ongoing rate of traffic fatalities has prompted city officials to partake in the Vision Zero program – which seeks to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries by the year 2030. Special emphasis has been placed on pedestrians and bicyclists – who are the most vulnerable road users and most likely to sustain severe or life-threatening injuries.
Uyen Dang, the city traffic engineer, believes that education is key for raising awareness among drivers and pedestrians through social media, outreach and other Vision Zero events.
Dang is also placing emphasis on bicycle safety by expanding bicycle networks. She tells WPTV, “Right now, the city has about 50 miles of network and we have completed over five miles already so we are at 10 percent and our goal is to get another 10 percent before the end of the year.”
Currently, S. Dixie Highway is managed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), making it difficult for city officials to make safety improvements. However, city officials are able to propose changes to FDOT.
FDOT recently approved a project to re-purpose the stretch of Dixie Highway that runs from Prospect Place to Okeechobee Boulevard and provide on-street parking and a 10-foot-wide sidewalk. This includes “No Right on Red” signs in pedestrian zones with high foot traffic.
Extra police patrols and highway enforcement has been added to certain areas most prone to crashes.
Dang cites Palm Beach County statistics that report 1,335 pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities from 2011 to 2017.
If you or a loved one were injured in a pedestrian accident or bicycle crash, know your rights. Contact an attorney from David J. Glatthorn, P.A. to explore your legal options and get the compensation you deserve.