Sometimes it takes a tragedy such as a bicycle death before recognized safety concerns are acted upon. This was the case with the recent bicycle death of a Boca Raton man who died when an SUV collided with his bicycle. At the time of his fatal accident he was riding his bicycle to his home from a friend’s nearby house. The collision occured near the intersection of Camino Del Mar and Camino Real in West Boca Raton, Florida. The intersection was very busy and did not have a traffic light to control cars and pedestrians crossing the roadway.
A traffic light is now being installed at the intersection of Camino Real and Camino Del Mar. In addition, the wheelchair ramps and tie-ins to cross the street, and stripping on the crosswalks are also being installed according to the Palm Beach County Traffic Division.
Several people who were upset about the fatal accident contacted the County to request that a new traffic study be performed at the dangerous intersection. A friend of the cyclist who was with him just before his fatal ride drove out and looked at the site. “You have to dash for your life if you’re walking or on a bike.” He checked out a website detailing the traffic flow there. The friend was shocked to discover that a traffic study hadn’t been done for five years.
The County was able to justify the installation of the light because of the traffic studies and also because of new laws concerning the limitations of seniors as they make right-hand turns in their cars.
Under Florida law it is difficult, but not impossible, to sue a municipality, a county, or a governmental agency, for not installing a traffic light at a particular location. While issues of this type have been extensively litigated in the courts, the general rule is that the initial decision by the government of whether to install a light or other traffic control device such as a sign is discretionary and hence there is no liability for an accident even if the intersection is known to have an unusual amount of accidents. There have exceptions carved out to this rule, but these are beyond the scope of this entry.
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