Six years ago, the Best Foot Forward (BFF) initiative launched to reverse the conflict between people walking and driving. The focus was simple: get more drivers to yield and stop for pedestrians at marked crosswalks as Florida law requires. Using education, engineering and enforcement, BFF has worked to increase awareness of this law and drive change at marked crosswalk locations across the county. So, how do we measure and track this progress? Driver yield rates.
Through constant tracking, we have seen the percentage of drivers yielding to people walking in crosswalks 40 mph and higher jump from 2% to 35%. In crosswalks 35 mph and lower, we have seen a percentage increase from 17% to 55%. Yes, there is still a ton of work to do, but the needle is moving in the right direction.
The tracking process is simple: Before and after each high-visibility enforcement detail, dubbed Operation BFF, data collectors make three separate trips to specific marked crosswalks and cross the street in intervals of 20. The number of drivers who stop for them versus the number of drivers who don’t form the yield rate percentage that BFF uses to track changes at each of our crosswalk locations. Over time, we can see whether or not more or less people are stopping, which is a direct indicator of driver behavior.
Let’s talk about driver behavior. See, when you’re driving, and you stop for someone walking, you’re being courteous – forming a belief that people driving are respectful of those around them. The opposite is also true, meaning that people who fail to stop for those crossing the street create an environment where people walking do not feel safe. That’s why these habits form our driving culture, directly relating to whether or not people feel safe when walking our streets. Simply put, if yield rates show that more drivers are stopping for people walking, that’s progress towards a culture where people walking matter.
So, if yield rates are improving, what does that tell us about drivers in Central Florida?
We’re making progress.