There were 2,210 traffic crashes in Jupiter last year. Through this June, there were only 1,040 in 2019.
JUPITER — There will be fewer car crashes this year in Jupiter than there were in 2018, if the current rate holds.
That would be the first time it’s happened since at least 2015. From 2015 to 2018, the number of crashes in town rose annually and topped out at 2,210 wrecks last year, according to Jupiter Police figures.
The town’s rising population, which means more cars on the road, is probably a factor, Police Chief Daniel Kerr said at a Jupiter Town Council meeting in August.
The population boom hasn’t stopped, but something changed early last year that police leaders say is critical: JPD created a unit to specifically address traffic enforcement and education.
Through the first six months of 2018, there were 1,204 crashes, according to JPD data. There were 1,040 crashes in the same time period this year.
Sgt. Michael Salvemini, who leads the new traffic unit, said the drop-off in crashes since last year is proof that Jupiter Police is having an impact on town roadways.
Having a formal traffic unit typically frees up at least three officers at any given time on road patrol, Salvemini said.
>> JUPITER READERS: Sign up for the weekly Post on Jupiter newsletter here
Instead of fielding calls for service, these officers can focus on addressing traffic concerns, Salvemini said. You can see them throughout Jupiter observing intersections or using radar guns to gauge speeds, he added.
The visibility is important, Councilman Ilan Kaufer said. He credits Jupiter Police with "doing an effective job" at reducing crashes.
"I think people are generally aware that ... if they are speeding, they’re more likely to get caught," Kaufer said.
Improving traffic safety helps the town safety across the board, Salvemini said. He added that traffic policing is a "department-wide objective."
"We believe there is a correlation between traffic enforcement and education with overall criminal activity," he said.
They’re keeping an eye out for troubling behavior behind the wheel, he said, particularly red-light violations and failure-to-yield incidents.
"Most of those infractions are the reasons for most of our crashes," he said.
The traffic unit maintains a data-driven approach to policing, Salvemini said. Focus areas can change month-to-month as statistics change, he said.
"It’s all about adapting to what’s happening out there," he said. "So we’re never stagnant."
One problematic area is Central Boulevard between Indian Creek Parkway and Scripps Way.
Town figures show crashes around intersections on that roughly two-mile stretch of road have held steady through the first half of 2019.
Of the 40 wrecks that happened around those intersections from January to June this year, 10 occurred at or near Central Boulevard’s intersection with University Boulevard.
Salvemini urges drivers to be particularly cautious at the street’s intersections.
"Instead of rolling through the stop sign, come to that complete stop," Salvemini said. "It’s difficult for people to judge how fast the car is going. And if you’re driving on Central, the speed limit is 45 miles an hour, but you’ll see cars going a little quicker."
An extra officer is assigned to work Central Boulevard during the day, Kerr said, but there’s still more work to do there.
"We’re going to continue that effort and try to have further impact on that area" Kerr said.