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Local Law Enforcement Cracking Down At Crosswalks, As More Drivers Get Back On The Road

Local Law Enforcement Cracking Down at Crosswalks, as More Drivers Get Back on the Road

On July 21, three local law enforcement agencies spread out across Central Florida for Operation Best Foot Forward – a high-visibility enforcement operation to ticket drivers not obeying Florida law and stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks.

Many asked, why do an enforcement operation, now, during COVID-19? The answer is straightforward. COVID-19 and stay at home advisories did not bring an end to walking as a form of transportation, enjoyment, and exercise. Read more in our Media Release. In fact, more people are walking for those purposes.

How can pedestrians be sure they are safe when crossing the street in a crosswalk? Are drivers looking out for them? If not, who is?

A plainclothes Osceola County deputy and four shoppers use the crosswalk at 3200 Rolling Oaks
Plainclothes Osceola County Deputy crosses the street at 3200 Rolling Oaks Blvd. with shoppers during Operation Best Foot Forward.

More Pedestrians, Fewer Crashes, But Cause for Concern

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Florida, many people chose to stay at home, to stay safe. In fact, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis mandated stay-at-home during the month of April. As a result of these actions, fewer drivers were on the road early on, and pedestrian crashes decreased by 37%, cumulatively, from March through May, when comparing 2020 to 2019.  However, as time passed and as more people were driving again, pedestrian crashes started to backslide toward 2019 levels.

That’s why the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, the Orlando Police Department and the Longwood Police Department joined together to do just that, to look out for pedestrians.

During Operation Best Foot Forward, officers and deputies monitored seven crosswalks, reminding drivers they must yield – slow down or stop – for a pedestrian crossing the street in a crosswalk, even when traffic control signals are not present. This is required under Florida Law.

In the roughly four-hour window of the enforcement operation, officers and deputies wrote 109 warnings and citations. Several local elected officials observed Operation Best Foot Forward firsthand, including Orange County District 3 Commissioner Mayra Uribe, Osceola County District 4 Commissioner Cheryl Grieb, and Seminole County District 4 Commissioner Amy Lockhart.

Maya Uribe, Orange County District 3 Commissioner and BFF Roni at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way in Orlando
Orange County District 3 Commissioner Maya Uribe with BFF Roni at E. Michigan St. and Cayman Way during Operation Best Foot Forward.

How It Works and the Consequences

During the enforcement, a plain-clothes officer or deputy crosses the street, legally, using the marked crosswalk and giving drivers enough time to slow and stop for them.  If drivers don’t obey the law and stop for the pedestrian, they may get a $164 fine in Orange and Seminole counties, and a $166 fine in Osceola County. The citation also adds three points on their license.

Watch at 10 seconds, as driver narrowly missing hitting pedestrian (plainclothes deputy)

High Visibility Equals A Lot of Visibility

News coverage is a key component of Operation Best Foot Forward, because reporters help educate drivers about Florida’s pedestrian laws. The point of an operation isn’t to ticket as many drivers as possible, it’s to educate as many drivers as possible, and media visibility does just that.

Media interest was high, with five television news stations on scene as well as front-page coverage in the Orlando Sentinel. Additional coverage included WMFE radio, the Pine Hills Press and other local publications. It is estimated nearly 1.5 million people in Central Florida saw a news story about Operation Best Foot Forward, equating to nearly $162,000 in earned media value.

The enforcement operation was a big hit on social media, too. Best Foot Forward and Bike/Walk Central Florida posts garnered nearly 40,000 impressions with its posts across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Shared coverage by partners such as MetroPlan Orlando, the Orlando Police Department, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, in addition to posts from local media added another 500,000 impressions.

Click Images to See Example Partner Posts on Social Media

The coverage was a great vehicle to keep crosswalk safety in the forefront, even during the height of the COVID-19 crisis.

Driver Behavior Needs to Change

The enforcement operation’s purpose is to save lives, prevent injury and change driver behavior. High-visibility enforcement is just one tool to accomplish this as an intervention prior to bad behaviors becoming habit and contributing to death and injury. High-visibility enforcement along with community education and low-cost engineering solutions are vital in the Best Foot Forward effort to increase safety for those crossing the street, as well as to make drivers more aware of the people on foot around them.

Osceola County Sheriff's Office signage at Donegan and Coral

Members of the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, Osceola County District 4 Commissioner Cheryl Grieb and BFF Katie at W. Donegan Ave. & Coral Ave.

Plainclothes Osceola County deputy uses the crosswalk at W. Donegan Ave. & Coral Ave.

Crosswalk signage, including a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon at W. Donegan Ave. & Coral Ave.

The PIO team from the Osceola County Sheriff's office, watching a crosswalk crackdown in action at Buenaventura Blvd. & Briarwood Dr.

This driver failed to yield to the plainclothes Osceola County deputy using the crosswalk at Buenaventura Blvd. & Briarwood Dr.

This driver didn't yield to the pedestrian (plainclothes Osceola County deputy) at Buenaventura Blvd. & Briarwood Dr.

An Osceola County deputy measures a safe distance for drivers to yield to a pedestrian using the crosswalk at 3200 Rolling Oaks Blvd.

BFF Program Coordinator Kayla, along with two Osceola County deputies at 3200 Rolling Oaks Blvd.

BFF's BFF Program Director Kayla stands with the pedestrian crossing sign, recently installed at 3200 Rolling Oaks Blvd. in Osceola County

Osceola County recently installed new signage at this crosswalk at 3200 Rolling Oaks Blvd.

Osceola County recently installed new signage at the crosswalk at 3200 Rolling Oaks Blvd.

The Osceola County Sheriff's Offices uses large signs to announce a visibility crosswalk enforcement to drivers at Buenaventura Blvd. and Briarwood Dr.

During Operation Best Foot Forward, a plainclothes deputy uses the crosswalk at Buenaventura Blvd. and Briarwood Dr. in Osceola County

A plainclothes Osceola County deputy escorts two bicyclists across the street, using the crosswalk at Buenaventura Blvd. & Briarwood Dr.

A plainclothes Osceola County deputy and four shoppers use the crosswalk at 3200 Rolling Oaks

Operation Best Foot Forward in progress at 3200 Rolling Oaks Blvd. in Osceola County

An Orlando Police officer pulls over a driver who failed to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk at Metrowest Blvd & MetroCenter Blvd.

BFF Tony legally crosses the street in the crosswalk during Operation Best Foot Forward at Metrowest Blvd. & Metrocenter Blvd. in Orlando

Pedestrian uses crosswalk Metrowest Blvd. & Metrocenter Blvd. in Orlando

This driver didn't yield to the BFF pedestrian at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way in Orlando

BFF pedestrian crossing at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way in Orlando

Special guests Ian Sikonia from the City of Orlando and Jaime Fletcher and Debra Tedesco from Orlando Health with BFFers at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way in Orlando

E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way

Spectrum News 13's Rebecca Turco showing her support for Operation Best Foot Forward at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way in Orlando

(L to R) BFF Barbara, Orlando Police Lt. Jerry Goglas and Maya Uribe, Orange County District 3 Commissioner social distancing at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way

Maya Uribe, Orange County District 3 Commissioner and BFF Roni at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way in Orlando

Nurse Practitioner Debra Tedesco with Orlando Health showing support for Operation Best Foot Forward at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way in Orlando

Orlando Police officer helping to conduct the crosswalk crackdown at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way

Several local television stations, including WESH 2 News and WKMG reported on Operation Best Foot Forward at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way in Orlando

Orlando Police officers showing their support for Operation Best Foot Forward at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way

iY4Peds at Church Ave. & Myrtle St. in Longwood

Plainclothes Longwood Police officer using the crosswalk during Operation Best Foot Forward at Church Ave. & Myrtle St.

Bicyclists crossing the street during Operation Best Foot Forward at Church Ave. & Myrtle St. in Longwood

Wesh2 News covering Operation Best Foot Forward at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way in Orlando

Spectrum News 13's Rebecca Turco and her photographer showing support at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way in Orlando

Orlando Police Sergeant John Keefe doing a media interview at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way in Orlando

Orlando Police Department setting up at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way

An Orlando Police officer writes a $164 ticket for a driver who didn't yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk at E. Michigan St. & Cayman Way

Longwood Police Sergeant Derek Chenoweth yields for peds. He's at Church Ave. & Myrtle St.

A pedestrian and her dog use the crosswalk at Church Ave. & Myrtle St. in Longwood

LYNX bus at Church Ave. & Myrtle St. in Longwood

LYNX bus at Church Ave. & Myrtle St. in Longwood

Signage at Church Ave. & Myrtle St. in Longwood

(L to R) A FOX35 photographer, BFF Program Director Amanda Day and Bill Wharton, a principal planner for Seminole County show support for Operation Best Foot Forward at Church Ave. & Myrtle St. in Longwood

SunRail station near Church Ave. & Myrtle St. in Longwood

Driver of red pickup turns right, in front of plainclothes Longwood Police officer and Sheryl Aldarondo, Injury Prevention Coordinator for Orlando Health, walking in the crosswalk at SR 434 and US 17/92 in Longwood

Plainclothes Longwood Police officer using the crosswalk during Operation Best Foot Forward at Church Ave. & Myrtle St.

Plainclothes Longwood officer radios to his partners about a driver who failed to yield at US 17/92 & SR 434 in Longwood

Plainclothes Longwood officer and Sheryl Aldarondo, Injury Prevention Coordinator for Orlando Health at SR 434 and US 17/92 in Longwood

Plainclothes Longwood officer and Sheryl Aldarondo, Injury Prevention Coordinator for Orlando Health at SR 434 and US 17/92 in Longwood

(L to R) Sheryl Aldarondo, Injury Prevention Coordinator for Orlando Health, plainclothes Longwood police officer and BWCF Executive Director Emily Hanna at SR 434 and US 17/92 in Longwood

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