Will more stop signs make traffic in Royal Palm Beach safer? Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Paul Miles (shown above) doesn’t think so. Instead, it’s all about enforcement.
Miles told the Royal Palm Beach Village Council last week that speeders are generally the same scofflaws who also run stop signs.
Discussion at the May 2 meeting centered around a group of Royal Palm Beach residents who have been clamoring for additional stop signs to combat speeders.
Councilman David Swift, who lives on Ponce de Leon Street in La Mancha, said he had met with other La Mancha residents about speeders on Royal Palm Beach Blvd. who turn right onto La Mancha Blvd. “Those residents came to me and asked about having some stop signs there,” Swift said.
Swift said that prior to the opening of the State Road 7 extension, there were similar issues.
“What we found out as soon as the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office came on board to specifically target speeders in the neighborhood was that they weren’t from The Acreage, they were us,” Swift recalled. “They very methodically identified those speeders, gave them tickets and those issues went away. I’m not so sure traffic signs really resolve that issue, because I have a three-way stop right in front of my house. People who obey the law, stop. People who speed, do not. Enforcement is a very important aspect of this.”
Miles said his department has worked on complaints in the area in the past. “As we saturate the area, the problems diminish,” Miles said. “As we started to go away, a few of them came back. When you called me, I sent some more folks back out there and again saturated the area to the point where the deputy I had out there said, ‘I’m out here now, and I’m not getting anybody.’”
At Bilbao Street and Barcelona Drive, a resident has complained about people not stopping at the stop sign, Miles said.
“I think you’re right as far as those law-abiders who are going to do the speed limit, or at least allow us to educate them,” Miles said to Swift. “It’s the same thing with stop signs. You can put up a stop sign, but the next complaint will be that they’re running the stop signs.”
Miles said that deputies have been monitoring that area as well as several others, including two other locations in La Mancha, two spots on State Road 7, and Royal Palm Beach Blvd. at Poinciana Blvd.
Village Manager Ray Liggins said the speeders usually live in the area. “Not only is it from the people living there, it’s the routine,” he said. “People come and go to work and whatever they’re doing at the same time each day, and when we have complaints of speeding like that, if residents know of someone specifically like that at a specific time, we can target those times.”
Liggins pointed out that the PBSO has a speed monitoring trailer, which not only tells drivers how fast they’re going but also records when the greatest number of speeders are going through the area, so that the PBSO can be there to target them.
“We will target speeders if we know the results from the trailer or if people call in and tell us,” he said.
Miles said the PBSO has analyzed the data from the trailer and that although it did not show the situation to be as bad as the complaints make it seem, the office sends out enforcement nevertheless to try to improve safety.
Vice Mayor Jeff Hmara said he had stood at La Mancha and Royal Palm Beach Blvd. to watch the traffic patterns, and that the violators are easily recognizable.
“It was so predictable that a color and make and even the driver were identified before traveling down the road at a speed that looked to be faster than the rest,” Hmara said.
Councilman Richard Valuntas asked Miles whether the additional motorcycle unit he requested for the next fiscal year would help with enforcement, and Miles said it would.
“It’s going to definitely help with complaints because I’m going to have someone else who I can dedicate to these issues,” Miles said. “Right now we’re working six different issues with the one motorcycle.”