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How to Make Walking Safer


District 2 County Commissioner Bryan Nelson recently went undercover with Orange County Sheriff officers and witnessed drivers not yielding at crosswalks.

Representative_Bryan_Nelson"Driver behavior disappointed me. I witnessed over 20 citations given in just an hour," said Nelson.

There were 640 reported pedestrian-relates accidents in Orange County in 2014, which was a 26.2% increase from 2010. Of those accidents 596 pedestrians were injured and 44 pedestrians died according to a Signal Four Database study.

Best Foot Forward for Pedestrian Safety (BFF), was formed by a coalition of civic leaders, public safety officials, engineers, educators, transportation planners, advocates and concerned citizens. BFF operates under Bike/Walk Central Florida, which is chaired by former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

BFF focuses on three main goals:

  • Educating pedestrians and drivers
  • Engineering safer crosswalks and streets
  • Enforcing Florida pedestrian laws

According to Florida law, drivers must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks even if there aren’t any pavement markings at the crossing. Also, turning vehicles are to yield to pedestrians crossing on a green light or with the WALK signal. Any driver who fails to yield will face a $164 fine as well as three points on their driver’s license.

In Central Florida at least two pedestrians are injured daily and one is killed every week reported in a Dangerous by Design study, 2014. Since BFFs inception in 2012, the number of drivers who yield to pedestrians has increased from 17% to 59% on roads 35 mph or less. And on roads 40 mph or higher the average has increased from 2% to 21%.

Fullscreen capture 342016 50732 PM.bmpSo far 2,187 citations have been issued out to motorists through the enforcement of BFF better known as Operation BFF. Operation BFF occurs when officers across Central Florida set up operations throughout the region to stop drivers who refuse to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. This operation helps educate drivers about the importance of yielding with either a stern warning or a $164 ticket. You never know the very same driver that didn’t stop today may be the one crossing at the crosswalk tomorrow.

Best Foot Forward has created a team with The Center for Education and Research in Safety (CERS), the City of Orlando and Orange County engineers to enhance our crosswalks and roads, making them safer for pedestrians to cross and improving crosswalk visibility. This team has suggested and implemented enhancements such as, increased signage or repaved crosswalks. Further enhancements include;

  • Advanced yield or stop markings at selected crosswalks.
  • In-street “Yield to Pedestrian” signs at selected crosswalks.
  • Rectangular rapid flash beacon devices at high traffic midblock crosswalks.
  • 8” x 10” prompting signs at crosswalks to instruct pedestrians on how to cross safely.

BFF2Best Foot Forward’s 2014 annual report states there have been 102 school-related crosswalk improvements since the inception of BFF.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Always cross at the marked crosswalk.
  • Look both ways and over your shoulders before crossing a street.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before stepping off the curve.
  • Do not text and walk just as it is not wise to text and drive.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings as both a driver and as a pedestrian.

Accidents can simply be avoided by exercising caution.



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