For more than 21 years, Tony Calabro has been making Central Florida safer by doing…
How do you know when you’ve made your mark? Especially when it’s about something so pedestrian as a pedestrian safety campaign.
Some say, the campaign hit the mark because of its catchy name, Best Foot Forward (BFF). The name sticks, surprises, and even incites some to smile. Others say, BFF made it when OCSO Sheriff Demings and the Kissimmee PD produced their own BFF videos to show they’re serious about making it safer for PEDs. Recently, we heard BFF hit it out the park when crosswalk enforcement, dubbed Operation Best Foot Forward, became part of the morning news traffic reports. It was then BFF went from an erasable marker to a waterproof Sharpie.
Just look at WFTV traffic reporter, Racquel Asa. For Operation Best Foot Forward, she reminds drivers about the driver yield law using a nifty, animated traffic map with crosswalk enforcement locations that generate a lot of gracious comments on social media.
Racquel is just one example and is certainly not alone. Recognition is due to all the local news reporters, TV anchors, print journalists, online bloggers and radio hosts’ fervent reporting on the growing pedestrian fatality epidemic and BFF’s small but focused role in changing the way we, as drivers, react to people crossing the street. Big kudos to our BFF’s in the local media. Without them, BFF would be remembered as Best Fade & Forget.
The most recent media coverage surrounded Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Orlando Police Department’s enforcement operation in June.
The Orlando Police Department (OPD) and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) joined forces for Operation Best Foot Forward (BFF), a high-visibility crosswalk enforcement operation where officers sporting their everyday clothes face a dangerous obstacle – crossing the street in a crosswalk. When drivers fail to stop, they are pulled over and issued a $164 citation.
Operation BFF is about more than citing drivers who don’t stop for people walking. It’s also about educating the community through traditional and social media platforms. While OPD and OSCO were able to hand out a total of 44 citations and warnings to drivers, local coverage through traditional media outlets and social media garnered over 960,000 estimated impressions (AKA, views). That means that almost one million people heard a very important message – stay alert and stop for people crossing the street.
BFF also had some special guests at some of our crosswalk locations. We were glad to see Adriana Patel, a trauma nurse at Orlando Health, who sees first-hand the end result of a car vs. person collision. We were also joined by Frank Gilbert, a Bike/Walk Central Florida board member, who is no stranger to the danger of cars on roads – he wheeled into our crosswalk location on his recumbent bike.
Some of our great media coverage included:
- Orlando Sentinel columnist, Scott Maxwell, and his blunt (and accurate) column: “Hey Florida drivers: Let’s run over fewer people this year!”
- Hadas Brown’s WESH 2 News report at Pine Hills Rd. and El Trio Way
- News 13’s Ryan Harper in Thornton Park
- Racquel Asa’s WFTV Channel 9 review of Columbia St. & Kuhl Ave.
A round of applause to our local stations and outlets – WKMG Channel 6, WFTV Channel 9, Spectrum News 13, WESH 2 News, Orlando Sentinel, Bungalower and 96.5 WDBO – for spreading the word and starting the conversation about what we, as drivers, need to be doing when we see someone crossing the street.
One of the biggest and most important pieces of the education puzzle involves you, our readers. Our followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram made sure to spread the word and asked all of the right questions about Operation BFF. Our partners at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office even used footage from the event to put together this great PSA for Facebook. Thank you for sharing with your friends and family and for commenting with your concerns and questions.
If BFF measured success in terms of reach, we’d definitely call this one a win. But, BFF measures success by yield rates – how many drivers are yielding to people crossing the street in marked crosswalks. Now that enforcement is over, our data collectors are visiting these crosswalks to see how drivers are doing. Stay tuned!