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March Operations Remind Drivers to Stop for Pedestrians While Reports Emphasize the Dangers in Region for People Walking

As two major reports in March again named Central Florida the most dangerous region in the nation for pedestrians, Best Foot Forward coalition partners continued working hard to change that trend. Six law enforcement agencies across three counties took part in Operation Best Foot Forward, a high-visibility enforcement operation aimed at changing driver behavior by getting them to yield or stop for pedestrians in crosswalks as Florida law requires.

“Operation Best Foot Forward is just one important piece of what the BFF partners are doing to reduce the number of drivers striking people,” said Emily Hanna, Bike/Walk Central Florida’s executive director.

In March, Smart Growth America’s Dangerous by Design report and the Governor’s Highway Safety Associations Pedestrian Traffic Fatality 2020 Preliminary Data pinpointed Florida and the Orlando-Sanford-Kissimmee region as the most dangerous in the nation for people walking.

“However, there was good news that came out of the Dangerous by Design report,” said Hanna in an in-depth radio interview. “Out of 100 metro regions, although 84 got worse, the Orlando area was one of the most improved. We are aware that we are the most dangerous, but the reports tell us that we need to continue our efforts and we are on the right track.”

The Best Foot Forward program brings together 30-plus organizations and agencies uniting to improve pedestrian safety through equity, engineering, education and enforcement. March’s Operation Best Foot Forward joined enforcement and education of the driver yield laws. Six law enforcement agencies issued 269 warnings and citations while partners educated thousands more drivers through an extensive media awareness campaign.

Here are a few highlights from the Operation:


How it Works and the Consequences

During the operation, plainclothes deputies and officers cross the street at marked crosswalks, giving drivers enough time to yield. Uniformed officers are monitoring driver behavior. Those drivers who fail to stop are pulled over and may be issued a warning or a citation of at least $164 and three points on their license. It’s a tough reminder of Florida’s Driver Yield Laws.

Check out our High-Visibility Enforcement Explained article for a deeper dive into the standards and best practices of the enforcements, the use of decoy pedestrians, warning flyers, the use of a 1-3 month warning periods and more.

City of Orlando Police Officers 

Decoy crossing as driver rolls through crosswalk

High Visibility Equals A Lot of Visibility

While officers and deputies do their job of enforcing the law, BFF staff reach out to media to spread the word beyond those stopped for failing to yield. Local media outlets ran a total of 116 stories on the March enforcements. These mentions are worth an estimated total of $328,000 in earned media value, the equivalent cost of buying advertisements to run at the same time/place. However, news stories are proven to be more credible and valuable than advertising, making the impact of this type of education more powerful. Click here to see some of the BFF news coverage.

News 13 Jerry Hume interviewinig BFF’s Roni Wood

Social Media Overview

During March’s Operation Best Foot Forward, social media impressions more than doubled from the last enforcement operation across Best Foot Forward’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Compared to November’s two-day operation with five participating agencies, March’s crosswalk enforcements spanned over a longer time period including three days of enforcement with six participating agencies.

With 112 total posts to Best Foot Forwards Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, March operations garnered:

  • 103,391 total impressions
  • 3,606 total engagements
  • 14 gained followers

For a full recap with links to print, television, radio and digital news stories, browse through the following Operation Best Foot Forward Report or download the pdf. Also, check out a few direct links to news stories here.

Full Operation BFF Media Report March 9, 23 & 24, 2021

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