Operation Street Smart Aims to Reduce the Number of Accidents in the City of Melbourne
The Melbourne Police Department has launched Operation Street Smart — a multipronged educational and enforcement initiative intended to reduce high number of accidents involving children, teens and adult pedestrians and bicyclists in the City of Melbourne.
Pedestrians and bicyclists are getting hurt and killed at an alarming rate. Already this year within the City of Melbourne alone there have been multiple accidents. Two of these accidents happened within the first week of the start of the school year. One student was injured walking to Eau Gallie High School, and another was injured biking to Johnson Middle School. In addition, school officials have contacted the MPD to report dangerous driving behavior by parent drivers in the school car loops that they fear will lead to more accidents and more kids getting hurt.
The MPD attributes the high number of number of accidents involving pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers to unsafe behaviors and a lack of awareness and attentiveness by all three groups.
“Motorists are driving while distracted — mostly driving while talking on their phones or texting — and are generally not paying attention near schools and other pedestrian-heavy environments,” said Melbourne Police Lt. Cheryl Trainer. “Bicyclists are often seen riding in the wrong lanes, not wearing helmets and not obeying other rules of the road, and pedestrians are not following safe practices while crossing roads and walking in areas of swift-moving traffic.”
The purpose of Operation Street Smart is to reduce bicycle and pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries through a combination of enforcement, education and engineering.
“Officers will address violations including speeding, right turn on red without stopping, red-light running, texting while driving, biking the wrong way down the road, and jaywalking,” Lt. Trainer said. “Every traffic and pedestrian stop will be used as a learning opportunity with the goal of changing behavior.”
School Resource Officers are giving presentations, and school crossing guards are mentoring students. Posters and educational material are being distributed at schools. Officers are monitoring students as they arrive and educating them regarding safety violations.
Officers will also distribute educational material in places with large numbers of adult pedestrians and bicyclists. They will be on lookout for opportunities to improve traffic safety, including signage, lighting and design improvements in these areas as part of the program.
A safety and education campaign will also be conducted on social media and the city’s website that will emphasize the role all roadway users have to play in staying safe and preventing accidents:
- Pedestrians must always cross at marked crosswalk when available. Look both ways and don’t assume cars will see you or will be able to stop in time if you run out into the road. Obey all road signs.
- Bicyclists must always ride with traffic, use proper hand signals and obey all safety and road signs. A bicycle rider or passenger who is under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet.
- Motorists must come to a complete stop first and check for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as other vehicles before turning. If green, motorists must yield to pedestrians.
- All groups need to pay attention to their surroundings and put their phones away when driving, biking or walking. Distracted driving is especially dangerous, and texting and driving is illegal in the state of Florida.
For more information about Operation Street Smart and to read important safety tips, please see www.melbourneflorida.org/street-smart.