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City data shows decline in crashes overall and significant improvement at targeted intersections
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. (May 2, 2019) –– It has been less than a year since the City of West Palm Beach adopted its own Vision Zero initiative, and the results of the City’s efforts continue to be promising. Recent data reflects an almost 3 percent decline in crashes overall, and more than 30 percent decline in crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists in areas in which the City has already started improvements, when compared to the first quarter of 2018.  The Vision Zero program, which aims to reduce and ultimately eliminate fatalities and serious injuries on City roads, received a $40,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) earlier this year. The grant was awarded to the West Palm Beach Police Department for pedestrian and bicycle enforcement, with a goal to increase awareness of and compliance with traffic laws that protect the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, who tend to be the most vulnerable in traffic-related crashes. Through research, the Department identified the roads and intersections of the most concern and efforts have been targeted to those areas.  
“The Vision Zero initiative continues to deliver impressive results,” said City of West Palm Beach Mayor Keith A. James. “We are grateful to the West Palm Beach Police Department and all of our community partners, including the Florida Department of Transportation, for their collaboration on our short-term and long-term goals to help improve the safety for all City of West Palm Beach road users. Together, we can achieve our goals to minimize – and eventually eliminate - major injuries and fatalities on our City roads.”
The City of West Palm Beach was eligible to participate in the grant program because the city accounts for approximately 12 percent of pedestrian and bicycle crashes in the county. Specific efforts to educate the public about the target areas ramped up in early March and the grant is earmarked to wrap in mid-May. The following areas were identified by City engineers as those of most concern, and were the focus of the FDOT grant:
  • Broadway Avenue between 36 and 59 Streets;
  • Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard between Dixie Highway and Village Boulevard;
  • Okeechobee Boulevard between Dixie Highway and Indian Road.
“Vision Zero is working,” said Tara Applebaum, Vision Zero Coordinator for the City of West Palm Beach. “It has been less than a year since the adoption of Vision Zero West Palm Beach, and we can already tell that our actions are making a significant impact. We continue to use data to identify the highest crash intersections and the streets needing short-term and long-term improvements. Once identified, we are then engineering solutions to improve the roads and make them safer for all users.”
A Vision Zero approach involves a wide variety of methodologies to reduce the troubling traffic fatalities and serious injuries produced on roads daily. The method has been adopted in 34 cities in the United States, with many more abroad. Locally, Vision Zero West Palm Beach is a collaborative effort between internal and external community stakeholders. The City of West Palm Beach acts as connector to resources and experts, advancing a shared goal to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries on the streets of West Palm Beach. The City looks to achieve its goal through the “three Es” – engineering, whereby the City commits to design better streets; education, including public fairs and targeted outreach programs; and enforcement, which includes enforcement of traffic laws and review of policy changes.
The release of this new data coincides with the passage of a bill in the Florida legislature that allows police to stop and ticket drivers for texting while driving. The bill would make texting while driving a primary offense instead of a secondary offense and requires drivers to go totally hands free when operating wireless communications devices in school zones and in construction zones when workers are present. Beginning January 1, 2020, Florida will join 43 other states that allow motorists to be pulled over for texting. Falling under the third “E” for enforcement, the City of West Palm Beach and the Vision Zero task force had issued strong support of this bill as an effort targeted to prevention of distracted driving.
For more information on Vision Zero West Palm Beach, visit www.wpb.org/visionzero, call 561-822-2222, or email Tara Applebaum at tapplebaum@wpb.org. For all City of West Palm Beach news and updates, follow the City of West Palm Beach on Facebook @CityofWPB and on Twitter and Instagram @westpalmbch.
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