Dangerous Drive: Traffic apps save motorists time, hurt neighborhoods

(WSVN) - Traffic apps on your phone can be a huge time saver to beat South Florida traffic. But many of those routes go through residential neighborhoods, and the people who live there say that’s creating a dangerous drive. 7’s Andrew Scheinthal has more in our special report.

Alfredo loves spending time with his pets and walking around his Kendale Lakes neighborhood.

Alfredo Dieppa, retired corrections officer: “I used to play racquetball and I had surgery on both knees, and I’ve been trying to avoid getting hurt again, so I try to walk.”

But now he’s afraid he’s going to end up getting hurt on his walks.

During morning and afternoon rush hour, speeding drivers are taking over Alfredo’s neighborhood at Southwest 68th Street and Southwest 132nd Avenue.

Alfredo Dieppa: “They give me the finger. They told me to go to hell. I’m very concerned for my safety and the safety of others.”

7News watched as drivers rolled through stop signs, sped past bicyclists and got way too close to some ducks.

Alfredo Dieppa: “All of a sudden, all of these streets have become like a shortcut for people.”

Miami-Dade Police say apps like Waze, Inrix and MapQuest are a part of the problem.

The apps are designed to show you the shortest or fastest route … which sometimes means getting off clogged freeways and heading through residential neighborhoods.

Officer Alejandro Munoz, Miami-Dade Police: “Before these traffic apps, people would just take the main roads. Now with these traffic apps, they will give you a shortcut. As I’m talking to you, I’m positive we’re going to get speeders while we’re speaking on camera.”

And we did within minutes. Several drivers were pulled over for speeding, but police say they’ve seen worse.

Officer Alejandro Munoz: “A vehicle lost control, got on the sidewalk and hit one of the parked vehicles at the residence. That could have very easily been somebody walking inside their home.”

And the dangers are not just here. Police across South Florida are seeing more complaints about heavy traffic in residential areas.

It’s a risk for the people who live there and a financial drain for the cities forced to try and slow the drivers down.

Mayor Eugene Flinn, Palmetto Bay: “We’re spending a lot of money on police enforcement and public works infrastructure to try to address the traffic and try to slow it down.”

Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn says one of his biggest issues is that the apps show where police officers are located.

Mayor Eugene Flinn: “The only reason to identify where the location of the officers are is to enable people to drive in excess or contrary to law.”

Miami-Dade Police say speeding along Southwest 68th Street has been an issue for years, but writing traffic tickets is never going to solve the problem.

Officer Alejandro Munoz: “They’ll come back to the same road and see the cops are not here, and they’ll increment their speeds again. I think stop signs will influence and will stop traffic.”

Miami-Dade Public Works officials did do several traffic studies, but the speeding in the neighborhood was not fast enough to qualify for speed bumps or stop signs.

Alfredo Dieppa: “I’ve been dealing with public works and they’re really not listening to me. They don’t care. This is not their neighborhood.”

Alfredo hopes county leaders will hear his plea and fix the dangerous drive so he can enjoy his walks again.

Some cities like New York have created laws restricting traffic apps from certain residential areas. Miami hasn’t gone that far, but local law enforcement says distracting driving laws do apply if you’re caught looking at your phone while driving, and they will ticket you.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Miami-Dade Police
https://www.miamidade.gov/police/contacts-us.asp

Palmetto Bay “Cite” Program
https://eugeneflinn.blogspot.com/search?q=CITE

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