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Operation Best Foot Forward was out in full force the first week of February. If you missed the news, Orlando Police Department (OPD) and Orange County Sherriff’s Office (OCSO) conducted the sixth round of crosswalk enforcement since August 2012. The operation yielded over 150 citations and warnings to drivers failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. A WESH cameraman, when crossing with Sgt. Rich Ruth of OPD, was almost hit by a driver who said, “he didn’t see him.” Are we really that distracted that we don’t even see a TV cameraman in a marked crosswalk? The answer is YES.
OPD-targeted intersections included Semoran & Curry Ford, Mercy & Kalwit, Michigan & Orange, Metrowest & Kirkman, and Colonial & OBT. OCSO set its sights on I Drive & Austrian, Pine Hills & North and Woodbury & Mallory. The next enforcement wave is scheduled in May.
Are We Seeing Positive Outcomes?
The answer is “we are starting to.” And, sometimes there are unforeseen influences that affect the numbers. For instance, OPD found the numbers of tickets were lower than previous enforcement operations at E. Michigan St. & S. Orange Ave this time around. But then again, Sgt. Richard Ruth had three reporters and four camera crewmen crossing the marked crosswalk with him at one point! This media attention made the undercover portion of the operation more difficult. As a result, drivers were paying more attention than usual to BFF’s efforts to enforce Florida’s yield law.
The BFF Steering Committee – City of Orlando, Orange County, MetroPlan Orlando, LYNX, Orlando Health, Orange County Public Schools, OPD and OCSO, decided to expand the number of crosswalks to enforce from 11 to 33 in 2014. This will allow BFF to expand our reach and get a more comprehensive understanding of the driver yield problems in Central Florida.
BFF enforcements to date have netted over 1,425 tickets and 3,900 warnings. And since then, we have witnessed an increase in yield rates from 12% to 48% on roads 35 mph and less in our first year. BFF is committed to continue tracking yield rate percentage increases for ultimate goal of reducing pedestrian injuries and fatalities by 50%.