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Push to reduce fatal pedestrian, bicycle crashes in Palm Beach County

54 deaths in the county last year
Posted at 11:16 AM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 18:47:10-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is working to make the roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The county currently ranks sixth in Florida, for counties with a population of more than 200,000, for traffic crashes resulting in serious or fatal injuries to pedestrians and cyclists.

RELATED: Deputies increasing visibility after high deadly crash ranking

According to the sheriff’s office, there were 1,024 collisions last year that resulted in 138 serious injuries and 54 deaths in the county.

In June 2018, Sandra Prestia was severely injured while on her bike.

Sandra Prestia hit by van while riding bike in 2018
Sandra Prestia was hit by a van while riding her bike on A1A in 2018.

"A construction van was going northbound on A1A. He crossed over to turn into a condominium community on the direction I was going, so he crossed in front of me, just didn't see me, and I t-boned him," Prestia said.

Her bike snapped in half because of the wreck.

"They ended up sending me to Delray Medical Trauma because I had a concussion. My lip was in three pieces. I was just bruised from head to toe," Prestia said.

Since Nov. 1, deputies have been conducting high-visibility enforcement at specific intersections in Palm Beach County.

The sheriff's office hopes this increased attention to the problem will improve safety and compliance with traffic laws.

"I’ve noticed is that there is an uptick in the number of accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians," said Michael Pike, managing partner of Pike and Lustig, a business litigation and personal injury law firm. "The population is surging relative to health and fitness during the pandemic. People want to be outside."

Attorney Michael Pike
Attorney Michael Pike said he believes there has been an increase in crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists during the pandemic because more people are outside exercising.

He said it’s important for new cyclists to know the laws to protect themselves.

"They, too, are obligated to follow the laws that vehicles follow. They have to give the appropriate signal ... they have to be on the right side of the street. So, yes, cars need to be more vigilant, and bicyclists need to be extra vigilant," Pike said.

The Jupiter Police Department said since October, they have highly monitored Indiantown Road from Pennock Lane east to U.S. Highway 1. Since that time, officers have been issuing warnings to offenders violating traffic laws.

However, beginning in February through the middle of May, the department said officers will start citing offenders.

Below are some reminders to improves safety on roads:

  • Drivers: Obey speed limits, never drive impaired and always watch for pedestrians and bicyclists, especially in intersections
  • Bicyclists: Obey traffic laws, ride in the direction of traffic flow, and always use lights when riding at night
  • Pedestrians: Cross in crosswalk or at intersections, obey pedestrian signals and make sure you are visible to drivers when walking at night

Reporter Sabirah Rayford is working on this story and will have a full report on NewsChannel 5 this evening.