DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona Beach police are spending at least five hours several days a week on the most dangerous stretches of roadway talking to pedestrians and bicycle riders.
The High-Visibility Enforcement, or HVE, operation running through May is designed to educate the people most at risk of losing their lives.
Daytona Beach Police traffic homicide investigator Henry Fulcher is one of the dozen officers trained to conduct HVE.
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"I would say our biggest problem is crossing when it's not safe to cross," Fulcher said. "In other words, stepping out in front of a vehicle, not using a crosswalk, crossing at a place where traffic is not expecting it, a sudden dart into traffic or a bicyclist that crosses the road in front of traffic, those seem to be the primary causes of most of the traffic fatalities."
Fulcher said HVE doesn't target drivers as much as pedestrians and riders because in most fatalities the driver didn't see the pedestrian until it was too late.
"A lot of it is just an unexpected entry into the roadway in front of a vehicle where the driver just doesn't have time to react," Fulcher said.
Fulcher said 10 people were killed by cars in 2017 and six in 2018 in Daytona Beach.
Daytona Beach was ranked as the 4th most dangerous mid-sized city in Florida for pedestrian and bicycle rider deaths.
“FDOT analyzed our statistics and realized we do have a high number of pedestrian-involved crashes in our city,” Fulcher said.
Police applied for a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to improve that ranking and FDOT agreed to pay for the overtime for as many as a dozen officers to conduct HVE.
Fulcher and the other officers focus on heavily-traveled streets, many of them six-lane roadways, surrounding shopping centers, beaches, and offices on Nova Road, Mason Avenue, Clyde Morris Boulevard, Ridgewood Avenue, International Speedway Boulevard and A1A.
Fulcher looks for walkers and riders who aren't using crosswalks, crossing during green lights, or any other behavior that puts a person in danger.
For the most part, he doesn't hand out tickets, just potentially life-saving advice.
"Mostly what we see in our city is often times the pedestrian isn't thinking before they enter the roadway," Fulcher said.
Fulcher also hands out blinking red LED bicycle lights. He said he's seeing more and more of them in use on bikes all over the city.
“My perception is that it’s working,” Fulcher said. “I see less violations and at night I see more bikes with lights which is great.”