Grants help law enforcement make Central Florida roads safer

By Erin Murray, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 10:43 AM EST

State grants are helping local law enforcement crack down on traffic laws in Central Florida.

  • Money helps cut down on crashes, aggressive driving
  • In 2017, 14 pedestrians killed on Orlando roads

Florida Department of Transportation granted the Orlando Police Department $46,000 and Volusia County Sheriff’s Office $50,000.

Orlando police are working to cut down on crashes involving pedestrians and bicycles, while Volusia County is trying to target speeders and aggressive driving.

Both law enforcement agencies started educating and going after violators Monday night. It only took deputy Nick Yackel 30 minutes to find and pull over four drivers along Catalina Boulevard in Deltona.

Some drivers spoke with Spectrum News 13 as they were pulled over.

“I guess he said I was speeding,” said Gary Trowbridge. He was clocked doing 41 mph on the 30 mph road.

“Because I was speeding,” said Naydin Sanabira. Radar picked her up going 43 mph.

“Did you know you were speeding?” asked Spectrum News 13 Reporter Erin Murray.

“Yes,” said Sanabria as she lowered her head.

Both departments said the grants are needed to fund both campaigns.

“It allows us to have officers to have overtime to be out in the streets enforcing and educating the public on pedestrian safety,” said Lt. Richard Ruth, Orlando Police Traffic Enforcement commander. “Smart Growth America has listed us as one of the most dangerous places in country to be a pedestrian, so we are trying to counter act that and make it a safer place for pedestrians in Central Florida.”

Just this year, 14 pedestrians have been killed on Orlando roads. In 2016, 16 people died. OPD said in each case it was the pedestrian's fault, which is why education is a big part of these grants.

“Pedestrians don’t always have the right of way. That is a big myth that a lot of people think. I know a lot of police officers think it too, but they don’t. They need to be crossing when and where they should. If not crossing in a crosswalk, they need to yield to traffic on the roadway,” said Ruth.

Many tickets and citations will be written over the next few months, but Monday night, Yackel did something different.

“Alright this is what I did, I wrote you a warning. OK?” Yackel told a driver. “The fine would have been $206, three points on your license, so you do need to slow down a little bit.”

All four drivers who were pulled over got a warning instead of a pricey ticket.

“Take it, fold it up, put it in your dashboard, remind yourself to slow down a little bit for us, alright guys?” said Yackel.

Orlando’s program will run until May of 2018 and Volusia’s will run until September 2018.