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University Police receives grant for traffic safety enforcement

University Police handed out information on traffic safety during the education phase of their new traffic enforcement program made possible by a grant they received in October. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

University Police (UP) have received a significant grant for conducting high visibility enforcement and education concerning traffic safety.

This enforcement will include education, warnings and citations carried out by uniformed officers in specific locations around campus.

“(UP) will provide high visibility traffic enforcement for all road users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists, in an effort to change behaviors and improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists,” UP Operations Commander Meg Ross said. 

 The $14,607 grant was approved in October of 2015, and UP has been in the education phase of the grant since Oct. 29, Ross said. 

Next week, UP will be moving into the warning phase. After about a month of this, it will move into the citations phase. All options — education, warnings or citations — will be carried out at the discretion of the officers, Ross said.

“There is always an emphasis on education, but we’ve been providing educations since October so we will be moving to warnings at the officer’s discretion,” Ross said. “We will continue to provide education as well.”

According to Ross, the grant is strictly an overtime grant and will allow UP to have two officers on patrol for four hours once a week. While on patrol, they will not be responding to other calls unless there is an emergency. 

The officers’ primary responsibilities will be seven specific areas of campus. These seven locations include Fletcher from 42nd to 56th street, Fletcher and Bruce B. Downs, Holly, 131st and Bruce B. Downs.

The grant was awarded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and is part of Florida’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Focused Initiative. UP began implementation of the initiative’s education phase. 

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there have been 1,482 total crashes in 2016 as of Jan. 26, resulting in 1,117 total injuries. This included 38 pedestrian crashes and 22 bicycle crashes. There have been 19,637 total crashes in Florida in 2016.

Crashes on campus have also been a problem, Ross said. In 2014, there were 197 crashes, 27 of which were non-motorist crashes, resulting in 39 injuries on campus, according to Ross. 

“It’s all relative, but with the number of pedestrians and bicyclists on campus and the amount of vehicular traffic, it’s definitely an area that we need to look for solutions on,” Ross said. “… Now, we didn’t have any fatalities in the 2014 calendar year in and around this area, but it’s always been a concern for us.

“We know our community uses these other methods of travel, not just vehicle but also bicycle and foot traffic, so we need to find a way to make sure everyone travels safely.”