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ORLANDO, Fla. (March 19, 2021) Deputies with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office will join officers with the Orlando and Casselberry Police Departments on March 23 and 24 to conduct Operation Best Forward crosswalk enforcements. They are specifically stepping up enforcement in March when added risks for pedestrians are on the rise: more drivers are on the roads for spring break, students are going to school when it’s darker with the recent spring-forward time change, and more drivers are commuting to work as COVID-19 vaccinations become more available.
Next week, on crosswalks across Orange and Seminole counites, deputies and police officers will stop drivers who fail to yield for pedestrians. Operation Best Foot Forward is scheduled for:
- Tuesday, March 23 in Seminole County, the City of Orlando and Casselberry
- Wednesday, March 24 in Casselberry
With more out-of-town drivers here for spring break on unfamiliar roads break, officials anticipate a greater risk for crashes. A study by researchers at the University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University have found the number of traffic fatalities increases during this period in the country’s top holiday destinations, like Florida.
The switch to daylight saving time on March 14th also poses an increased risk on local roads. Several national studies show the number of deadly traffic crashes spike by six percent within the first week of the time change as drivers adjust to darker driving conditions.
In contrast to last March when COVID-19 restrictions began forcing people to stay closer to home, more residents are beginning to commute to work again. On Monday, the state lowered the age for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people aged 60. Two days later, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the state will soon expand the eligibility age again to people below 55.
Because of the changing conditions, officials worked together to identify some of the region’s most dangerous crosswalks to monitor and enforce. Included are:
- Michigan Ave. & Cayman Way in east Orlando where recent studies indicated only 17% of drivers yield to pedestrians.
- Edgewater Dr. & Shady Lane in west Orlando where drivers are known to speed near homes and 5 local schools. This, despite changes on Edgewater Dr. in 2017 to ease traffic through the area, plus the addition of rapid flashing beacons at the crosswalk.
- Winter Park Dr. & Quintuplet Dr. in Casselberry was recently added for enforcement because pedestrians must cross 4 lanes of traffic on a street where drivers are only known to yield just 12% of the time.
- Bear Lake Rd. & McNeil Rd. in Seminole County near an elementary and middle school where only 32% of drivers stop for pedestrians.
Drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks, as Florida law requires, may be issued a warning or citation of a minimum of $164 and 3 points on their license.
NOTE TO EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: Media is invited to Operation Best Foot Forward and will have the opportunity to speak to drivers, police officers and pedestrians. Contact April Owens, 509-475-8976 (cell).
About Best Foot Forward for Pedestrian Safety Program
The Best Foot Forward for pedestrian safety program is administered by the local non-profit Bike/Walk Central Florida and first launched in Orange County and the City of Orlando in 2012. It expanded to Osceola County, Kissimmee and St. Cloud in 2017 and Seminole County in October 2019. Best Foot Forward is now made up of some 38 coalition partners across Central Florida.
Best Foot Forward was created to reverse the conflict between pedestrians and drivers by focusing on one specific behavior change – getting more drivers to yield for pedestrians at marked crosswalks as Florida law requires. More than a campaign, Best Foot Forward is a behavior change-based program designed to improve road safety through consistent and persistent education, high-visibility crosswalk enforcement and low-cost engineering at marked crosswalks near elementary schools and LYNX bus stops, in urban areas and cross-sections of low and high-speed roads.
Best Foot Forward program progress: 2012-2020
- Operating in three counties, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties
- More than 10,047 citations and warnings issued since 2012
- 181 crosswalks enforced by law enforcement
- 44 percent increase – average yielding behavior change at those crosswalks being tracked by Best Foot Forward
Covering Orange, Osceola and now Seminole Counties, Best Foot Forward is the largest grassroots coalition focused on pedestrian safety in the nation. Since 2012, when Best Foot Forward was launched, the percentage of drivers yielding to people in marked crosswalks has increased from 17% to more than 60% on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph and lower and 2% to 43% on roads 40 mph and higher.
About Bike/Walk Central Florida, Administers the Best Foot Forward Program
Bike/Walk Central Florida (BWCF) is a 501(c)(3) that promotes walkable and bikeable communities through raising public awareness and advocating for safe, active transportation and recreation.
BWCF manages the Best Foot Forward for pedestrian safety program for its partners in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Best Foot Forward is a behavior change-based program designed to improve road safety through consistent and persistent education, high-visibility enforcement and low-cost engineering at marked crosswalks. Best Foot Forward was launched in Orange County in June 2012. It more recently expanded into Osceola County in 2017 and Seminole County in 2019. Best Foot Forward is one of the largest grassroots programs of its kind in the nation.
BWCF coordinates the Bike5Cities program and its annual bike ride to promote safe bicycling routes and enhanced multi-use trails throughout Central Florida. The organization supports building, expanding and linking regional trails and completing Coast-to-Coast Connector trail. BWCF encourages transportation corridor planning and design by using Complete Streets principles for the benefit of all transportation users. To learn more, go to http://bikewalkcentralflorida.org/.