Florida is notoriously famous for reckless driving and theme parks and beaches. When those things collide, you increase the risk of car accidents and pedestrian danger. With spring break, Daylight Savings, and increasingly-relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, the Sunshine State is clouded over by the perfect traffic storm.
Local law enforcement agencies from Osceola, Seminole, and Orange counties as well as their 38 coalition partners in Central Florida will execute part of their Best Foot Forward project. The initiative aims to encourage pedestrian safety by properly yielding at crosswalks.
Plainclothes officers will be located at crosswalks across the three counties. They will help people cross the street safely and ensure that all vehicles follow safe slowing and stopping procedures at each crossing. They will be implementing a two-day crosswalk effort on Tuesday, March 23, and Wednesday, March 24.
With vaccinations underway, more people are beginning to leave their homes for the first time since last March. Sleep schedules are still adjusting to the time change and darker mornings. In addition to spring break attracting people from all over to our state for its many attractions, traffic safety has been a consistent issue for Floridians. Officers will protect crossing pedestrians during a time when crossing can be extra dangerous and even fatal, according to recent research produced by Florida Atlantic University and the University of Miami.
Failure to comply with yielding policies at crosswalks will result in a possible warning, minimum $164 fine, and three points on their license.
Below is the outline of crosswalks to be monitored during Best Foot Forward, excerpted from the official Day Communications Inc. press release:
- Michigan Avenue and Cayman Way in East Orlando. Only 17% of drivers are complying with Florida’s driver yield law and stopping for pedestrians at this crosswalk.
- Edgewater Drive and Shady Lane in West Orlando. A rectangular rapid flashing beacon was installed, and driver yield rates now hover closer to 65%. Edgewater Drive was also reconfigured from four lanes down to three, cutting traffic crashes in half.
- S. Winter Park Drive and Quintuplet Drive in Casselberry. New to the Best Foot Forward Program and located at a four-lane, higher speed road where drivers yield to pedestrians crossing only 12% of the time.
- Bear Lake Road and McNeil Road in Seminole County, located in a heavily-traveled spot near an elementary and middle school.
The Best Foot Forward program is an effort by Bike/Walk Central Florida, a local nonprofit that focuses on fostering an environment that promotes wellness and is safe for walking and biking. The BFF program is one of the largest grassroots programs of its kind nationally.
Since the initial installation of the program in 2012, the project has expanded to three counties and protected over 180 crosswalks. This figure shows a 44% improvement to yielding behavior since its implementation. Law enforcement has issued more than 10,000 citations and warnings as a result.
On calmer, more residential roads, correct yielding procedures show a jump from 17% to 60%. Highway roads have seen an increase from 2% to 43%.
Today and tomorrow, our law enforcement officers will be supporting the protection of our pedestrians. The quantitative improvement exhibited by the BFF program shows expansion and effectiveness for the future.