From Best Foot Forward, Apopka Police Department and Staff Reports
Across the country, there is an epidemic of pedestrian deaths. In 2017, a pedestrian was killed every 88 minutes, nationwide.¹ In 2009, Smart Growth America’s Dangerous by Design report named Metro Orlando the #1 most dangerous place in the country for pedestrians. In 2021, we are still at the top of the list.²
Florida accounts for nearly 11% of all the pedestrian deaths in the country.¹ And statewide, pedestrians make up more than 20% of all the traffic fatalities.¹ According to the latest statistics (2018), Florida was tied for the 3rd highest pedestrian fatality rate in the nation at 3.3 for every 100,000 people.²
Because Orange County ranks in the top 25 counties in the state for traffic crashes resulting in serious and fatal injuries to both pedestrians and bicyclists, the Apopka Police Department (APD) is heading out to the roads to help educate drivers, walkers and riders alike.
In an effort to protect the safety of these most vulnerable road users, the APD will conduct High Visibility Enforcement Details (HVE) on March 16, March 26, April 30, May 6 and May 11, 2021, along Orange Blossom Trail. This area is over-represented in traffic crashes resulting in serious and fatal injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists.
HVE details are funded through a contract with the University of North Florida in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation’s focused initiative to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety. The goal of this enforcement effort is to increase awareness of and compliance with traffic laws that protect the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.
Enforcement efforts will focus primarily on education to drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. However, violations may result in warnings or citations depending on the circumstances.
Drivers: obey speed limits, never drive impaired, and always watch for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Bicyclists: obey traffic laws, ride in the direction of traffic, and use lights when riding at night.
Pedestrians: cross in crosswalks or at intersections, obey pedestrian signals, make sure you are visible to drivers when walking at night, and use sidewalks when they are available.
Questions: Contact Sergeant Steve Harmon at (407) 703-1771 or (407) 703-1757.
The mission of Best Foot Forward (BFF) is to lower pedestrian fatalities by getting more drivers to yield and stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, as Florida law requires. Toward this end, deputies from around Central Florida, including those from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, will conduct Operation Best Forward’s first crosswalk enforcement of 2021.
Officials are stepping up enforcement in March specifically as there are added risks for pedestrians always on the rise this month. For example, more drivers are on the roads for spring break. A study by researchers at the University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University found the number of traffic fatalities increases in the country’s top holiday destinations, such as Florida during spring break. Another factor is the increase in darker morning drive times when students are going to school. Several national studies show the number of deadly traffic crashes spike by six percent the first week after the time change as drivers adjust to darker driving conditions. And a final factor is the increase of drivers commuting to work now, with COVID-19 vaccinations becoming more available.
The enforcement date for Operation Best Foot Forward in Orange County will be Wednesday, March 24. Be on the lookout for plainclothes deputies and police officers who will cross streets at marked crosswalks to remind drivers and pedestrians about Florida’s driver yield laws.
Drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks, as Florida law requires, may be issued a warning or citation of a minimum of $164 and 3 points on their license.
*Data as of 3/1/2020
NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts (Oct. 2019)
Smart Growth America, Dangerous by Design 2019
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC
Bike/Walk Central Florida (BWCF) is a 501(c)(3) that promotes walkable and bikeable communities through raising public awareness and advocating for safe, active transportation and recreation. BWCF manages the Best Foot Forward for pedestrian safety program for its partners in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Best Foot Forward is a behavior change-based program designed to improve road safety through consistent and persistent education, high-visibility enforcement and low-cost engineering at marked crosswalks. Best Foot Forward was launched in Orange County in June 2012. It more recently expanded into Osceola County in 2017 and Seminole County in 2019. Best Foot Forward is one of the largest grassroots programs of its kind in the nation.
BWCF coordinates the Bike5Cities program and its annual bike ride to promote safe bicycling routes and enhanced multi-use trails throughout Central Florida. The organization supports building, expanding and linking regional trails and completing Coast-to-Coast Connector trail. BWCF encourages transportation corridor planning and design by using Complete Streets principles for the benefit of all transportation users. To learn more, go to http://bikewalkcentralflorida.org/.
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