Bradenton police target high-crash areas amid 'alarming' increase

The next time you're driving in Bradenton, you might want to pay extra attention. On Wednesday night, the city's police department announced in a tweet that it is increasing patrols in response to the number of fatal traffic crashes doubling from 2020 to 2021.

In a news release, Bradenton Police Department said the city is experiencing "an alarming increase in the number of traffic crashes resulting in serious and fatal injuries to motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists."

The county is among the 25 counties in Florida with the highest representation of crashes resulting in pedestrian and bicyclist serious and fatal injuries, according to the announcement.

"To help reverse this trend, the Bradenton Police Department is participating in the Florida Department of Transportation High Visibility Enforcement (HVE) Program, aimed at educating motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians on Florida’s traffic laws to improve safety."

RELATED: Tampa works to reverse trend as deadly traffic crashes reaches 16-year high nationwide

Police said drivers will notice additional officers patrolling specific corridors with a higher-than-average number of crashes involving pedestrians and bicycles. "Increased patrols will immediately begin along 8th Ave. W., between 12st St. W. and 14th St."

In February, the department will add patrols along 4th St. W., between 9th Ave. W. and 21st Ave. W.; 1st St., between 9th Ave. W. and the CSX railroad; and Manatee Ave. W. between 35th St. W. and 43rd St. W.

"Special attention will be directed towards increasing awareness of the dangerous behaviors that contribute to serious and fatal injuries at these locations," the release said. "Officers will look for drivers speeding, failing to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, conducting improper turns or signal violations, and using hand-held devices while driving.

Officers also will watch for pedestrians who cross the street illegally or fail to yield to motorists who have right-of-way. Bicyclists will be stopped for riding against traffic, riding at night without lights or not abiding by the same laws as motor vehicles. Warnings and citations will be issued only when appropriate.

According to BPD, funding for the program is provided through a contract with University of North Florida’s Institute of Police Technology and Management funded by the Florida Department of Transportation.

Bradenton Police Department will receive funds for overtime hours for officers to run operations and for special training on Florida’s bicycle and pedestrian laws and best practices. The department said operations will run until May 12, 2023.