By Fred Maas, Police Chief
(Monday, January 29, 2018) – Winter is an extremely busy season in South Florida and our streets are seeing increased levels of traffic. With more vehicles on the road and pedestrians on the street, the risk of accidents and fatalities is heightened. We want to ensure your safety whether you are driving your child to school, walking to the market, or biking to the park.
Two busy pedestrian areas in Sunny Isles Beach are along Collins Avenue, at the crosswalks at and 174th Street and 178th Street. Remember that pedestrians always have the right-of-way. It is important for drivers to use caution when turning right and to look both ways to ensure a pedestrian is not in the crosswalks. There is also a pedestrian crosswalk light at 163rd Street and Collins Avenue. All vehicles must stop before the crosswalk when this light is flashing. A flashing light means pedestrians are crossing.
When pulling out of a driveway over a sidewalk, be sure to look both ways for pedestrians. Pedestrians may be walking in either direction, so it is imperative to not just look from where vehicular traffic is coming from.
Another major distraction, which causes some of the worst fatalities, is using your phone while driving. Distracted driving kills and injures thousands of people each year. No text or notification is worth risking the lives of you or other drivers.
Traffic safety, however, is a two-way street. It is not only the duty of drivers to be cautious; pedestrians must also be alert when crossing streets or walking on sidewalks. For your safety, cross at intersections where there are traffic lights and crosswalks. Always wait for the pedestrian crossing signal before crossing the street and ensure vehicles are stopped at the traffic light. Leaving the curb suddenly could have fatal consequences, as you cannot rely on drivers seeing you. When attempting to cross the street, never assume a vehicle will stop for you.
Bicycles are also considered vehicles and when riding, you are a driver. This means that bicyclists riding in the street must obey all traffic signals, signs and lane markings. Riding a bicycle does not mean that you can run a red light since you are not in a car. When riding on the sidewalk or street, always stop at corners to ensure the drivers in cars see you before crossing. Ride in the same direction as other vehicles and protect your body by wearing a properly fitted bicycle helmet.
Additionally, skateboarding, rollerblading or scooter riding is not allowed on sidewalks along Collins Avenue. These sidewalks are heavily traveled and weaving around pedestrians on a skateboard or rollerblades is dangerous. Please exercise caution when riding on side streets and be mindful when passing pedestrians or other riders.
Though our City may be geographically narrow, every driver and pedestrian is at risk. It only takes one second to make a fatal mistake. We want to help you avoid accidents and fatalities, and the first step is being alert and attentive while driving, walking or biking.