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Cape police ratchet up traffic enforcement

By Staff | Feb 5, 2011

Drivers with a lead foot may want to ease off of the gas pedal when traveling on Pine Island Road in the coming weeks.
The Cape Coral Police Department announced Friday that it is stepping up traffic enforcement along the road over the next two weeks in an effort to focus on driver safety. Officers will be looking for aggressive drivers, red light runners and, of course, speeders.
Interim Police Chief Jay Murphy said the enforcement was spurred by the city seeing its first two traffic fatalities of the year — its only two, so far — occur on the Pine Island corridor. The goal is to keep locals and visitors safe when they are traveling on Cape roads.
“We are going to increase our enforcement up there,” he said. “The public needs to be forewarned.”
Sgt. David Gleason, with the CCPD’s traffic unit, said officers will mainly target the area between Santa Barbara Boulevard and Del Prado Boulevard.
“But nothing’s off limits,” he added of the remainder of Pine Island Road.
On Friday, at least one driver found out the hard way about the increased enforcement effort. Officer Ray Schilke Jr., of the CCPD’s motorcycle unit, pulled over a man who Schilke said he clocked going 64 mph.
“We want to have people aware that the speed limit is not over 55,” he said.
The driver was stopped in nearly the 1100 block of Pine Island Road Northeast. The posted speed limit on that stretch of road is 55 mph.
Schilke wrote the man a speeding ticket with a $124 fine.
The man told Schilke that he did not realize that he was speeding.
“People just need to be a little more cognisant,” Schilke said.
He hoped that the two-week enforcement might help with that.
“Get a little bit of public awareness,” he said. “See if that might save a life.”
Schilke pointed out that many drivers who speed do so because they think it saves them time, but there is always the chance that they could get cited.
“This certainly is not saving time,” he said as he wrote the traffic ticket.
Brian A. Higgins, 44, of 15605 Ocean Walk Circle, Apt. 116, Fort Myers, died Thursday when the SUV he was operating crashed into one vehicle and then another on Pine Island before rolling over. The driver of one of the vehicles that was hit sustained minor injuries.
Scott Edward Wheeler, 24, of Fort Myers, died Jan. 12 when he was ejected from the motorcycle he was driving on Pine Island. Police reported that a car turned into Wheeler’s right-of-way. A corrections officer for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Wheeler attempted to stop before crashing but could not.
According to witnesses, Wheeler was traveling at a high rate of speed.
The driver of the vehicle involved was not injured, police said.
The investigation into the crash remained open earlier this week.