Data Collection… Saves Lives?

Did you know that throughout the year, we are monitoring certain local crosswalks, and tracking just how many drivers stop for pedestrians crossing the street?

In preparation for our next enforcement event, Operation BFF, we sent out a team of data collectors this week to observe and measure driver and pedestrian behavior at crosswalks across Orange county.

This week our Student BFFers from Rollins College joined our data collection to witness first-hand how we calculate yield rates. Now, we know “driver yield rates” may not sound like the most fun, but it is the most critical element to measuring the success of our Operation BFF enforcement actions.

Picture this: A four lane road with a speed limit of 40 MPH, a crosswalk with pedestrian signs, flashing lights and stark white pain, a data collector with three college students walking across the crosswalk. Two drivers have slowed, almost to a complete stop to let people cross. Then seemingly out of nowhere, another driver flies around the stopped cars. When the impatient driver does this, the group of pedestrians is almost hit and trapped in the center of the street.

This is just one example of many and is the exact reason why we do Operation BFF. Prior to law enforcement handing out tickets in a crosswalk crackdown, our data collectors with pen and paper in hand, travel across the county and walk a total of 45 times across designated crosswalks. They monitor the number of fellow pedestrians on the street. They record the number of drivers who yield, the distance at which they yield and any evasive actions taken to avoid a crash. Our data collectors also record the engineering of the road. How is the painting of the crosswalk? Are trees or telephone poles blocking the view of the pedestrian yield signs? Are rapid flashing beacons present?

All of these observations are converted into statistics. Then, three short weeks later, following Operation BFF enforcement actions at the same crosswalks initially measured, our brave data collectors return to the streets to measure post-enforcement driver yield rates.

We have shown time and time again that high visibility enforcement by police and sheriff’s deputies make drivers more aware of pedestrians in crosswalks. Data consistently shows that more drivers yield or stop for pedestrians after Operation BFF, potentially saving lives.

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