PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Police in Port St. Lucie are starting to get the word out that drivers will need to be extra aware of their speed as they motor through city neighborhoods.
An effort is underway to reduce the speed limit on all neighborhood roads.
There are more than 1,100 miles of streets in Port St. Lucie.
"We’re trying to get people to slow down on these roads," said Police Chief John Bolduc.
Right now, the speed limit on residential streets is 30 miles per hour, but that’s going to change.
"A 30 mile per hour speed limit is a fast speed limit for a residential neighborhood. It’s at the top of the range,” said Bolduc.
At a meeting in September, Mayor Shannon Martin said "Our residents are telling us in almost every neighborhood in city that speeding is a problem. So we have to do what we can to address that issue.”
The city is proposing reducing the speed limit on all residential roads to 25 miles per hour.
“25 would be very appropriate, you’ve got pedestrians everywhere,” said resident Tony Tamayo.
Police have focused on speeding this year. 12,380 tickets have been written through September. That’s only 2,300 fewer than all of last year when 14,692 were written.
“People you know it’s like racing. They don’t care,” said resident Beatriz Senior.
But are drivers consistently breaking the law? One resident had his doubts.
“The citywide average is 31 miles per hour,” resident Richard Lawton told commissioners at a September council meeting.
Lawton was quoting from a recent study done by city consultants who tracked speeds in 45 locations.
Along McCall Road just off Port St. Lucie Boulevard, of the 505 cars monitored, just 18 were clocked going 40 or above.
“People on residential streets perceive themselves not to be safe because of the speeds of the vehicles passing by them on their residential streets and driveways,” said Bolduc.
The chief added studies show nine out of 10 pedestrians are killed when hit by a car traveling 40 miles per hour. At 30 miles per hour, the fatality rate drops to four out of 10.
“There’s a lot of children in this neighborhood. They walk to and from the bus stop and there are no sidewalks. It’s all about them, the little ones. It’s about them getting where they have to get safe,” said resident Joshua Mahler.
Chief Bolduc said they approach traffic safety with four “Es”: education, engineering, enforcement, and emergency response.
Some spots have engineered roundabouts or other speed mitigators. That can be cheaper than enforcement with the cost of man hours to get people to change their behavior.
“Reducing speed limit down to 25 with educational signs may get people to think, why is this 25? Oh because I’m on a residential street and I may be encountering pedestrians and bicyclists,” said Bolduc.
Once a deal has been signed with a contractor, new speed limit signs will be posted at the entrance to just about every city neighborhood.
“This isn’t about us writing tickets. It’s about getting everybody educated and slowed down and making the community safer,” said Bolduc.
The new 25 mph neighborhood speed limit should be in full effect by next summer.