BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – Bradenton police say they have seen a recent increase in crashes involving serious injuries or death. From 2020 to 2021, the number of fatalities doubled, according to the police department.

In hopes of seeing positive change, officers are conducting high-visibility enforcement at some of the area’s most dangerous traffic corridors where they see a high occurrences of pedestrian and bicycle-involved crashes.

Lt. Phillip Waller described the increase in deadly crashes as “very concerning.”

“I can’t chalk it up to one certain factor. I can’t say well, it is due to an increase in traffic, our increase in volume of people in Florida or tourism. It is everything, all added together,” Lt. Waller said. “What I can say, is a lot of our fatalities that have been related to pedestrians or bicyclists, most of the time, the pedestrians and bicyclists have been at fault.”

That’s why he stresses the importance of educating the public through the high visibility enforcement.

“We are not just targeting pedestrians, we are not just targeting bicyclists or cars. We are targeting anything that can affect pedestrian or bicyclist safety,” he said. “Anytime that a pedestrian crosses in a marked crosswalk, they do have the right of way, cars do have to yield. So if they fail to do that, we will stop that car. If bicyclists are riding against the flow of traffic or a pedestrian is trying to cross the street at a non-marked crosswalk, we are going to stop and talk to them.”

Funding for the enforcement is provided through a contract with the University of North Florida’s Institute of Police Technology and Management, funded by the Florida Department of Transportation. Bradenton officers will receive overtime hours to conduct the high visibility enforcement. The contract will continue until May 2023.