St. Petersburg police target speeders amid 'alarming' spike in fatal crashes

St. Petersburg police are stepping up traffic patrols and enforcement this month in response to what the department is describing as "an alarming number" of recent traffic fatalities. 

The ramped-up effort includes a new series of focused speed enforcement operations, with the first happening on Thursday on Roosevelt Boulevard near I-275. So far in 2021, there have been 13 fatal traffic crashes in the city of St. Petersburg, compared to five during the same time period last year. 

"This includes vehicle, motorcycle and pedestrian crashes where someone lost a life," the department said in a news release. 

On March 22, a pedestrian was killed on 4th Street North near 89th Avenue North. At the time, police said a driver hit a man before running off the road and crashing into an office building. The pedestrian died at the scene. 

PREVIOUS: Driver kills pedestrian before slamming into St. Pete building

Earlier in March, three people were killed in a crash involving a motorcycle. An SUV was driving on 4th Street South when it turned into the motorcycle's path. The man on the bike died at the crash site. 

The women in the SUV were rushed to the hospital, where one of them later died. The other two were left in critical condition. 

READ: Friends, family devastated after weekend birthday trip ends in deadly crash

Police said excessive speed and/or distracted driving was a contributing factor in most cases. 

"In an effort to send a message to drivers to slow down and pay attention, the St. Petersburg Police Traffic Unit will be looking for speeders and drivers who break the law," police said. They will focus on two locations every week on different roads of the city."