Port St. Lucie’s high-visibility patrols seek to cut down crashes

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — In the past twp years, there have been nearly 200 bicycle and pedestrian crashes in Port St. Lucie.

Now, police are working to make the roads safer for all.

The Port St. Lucie Police Department is participating in a high-visibility enforcement program. Essentially it would mean increased patrols in areas like Bayshore Boulevard and Prima Vista Road.

Main roads like Gatlin Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard see lots of traffic from drivers to bicyclists to pedestrians.

“I think they need more people to be ticketed that drive crazy,” Delynn Harm, a resident of Port St. Lucie, said. “The cars don’t watch for the pedestrians.”

Ruth Incandela, also a resident of Port St. Lucie, said: “I think cyclists need to learn the rules of the road also and be able to share that road safely because I think sometimes cyclists don’t stop at stop signs, don’t stop at the light.”

St. Lucie County ranks in the top 25 counties in Florida for traffic crashes resulting in fatalities and serious injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists.

In an effort to change that, the department is participating in the high-visibility program funded by the Florida Department of Transportation.

“Instead of just randomly patrolling, we are directly patrolling these specific areas,” police Chief Richard Del Toro said.

Khalil McLean/WPTV

Port St. Lucie police Chief Richard Del Toro.

The goal is to increase awareness of the dangerous behaviors that lead to accidents through education and ticketing if necessary.

The program isn’t focusing solely on drivers.

“Are the pedestrians using the crosswalks correctly because we see a lot of accidents where they’re not using the crosswalks,” Del Toro said. “Same thing with bicyclists. We want to make sure they’re wearing helmets. Bicyclists people don’t realize you have to follow the same rules on a roadway as a vehicle.”

Two corridors have been part of the program since September: Southwest Gatlin Boulevard from Interstate 95 to Southwest Fondura Boulevard and Southeast Floresta Drive from Crosstown Parkway to Southeast Veranda Avenue.

Two places begin in February: Southwest Savona Boulevard from…