New year, new crosswalks, same dangerous driving habits. Earlier this month local law enforcement experienced first-hand why Central Florida is the most dangerous area in the country when it comes to pedestrians. Over two days, during Operation Best Foot Forward, Osceola Deputies and Kissimmee and St. Cloud police officers issued 81 citations and 19 warnings to drivers who failed to yield for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
Fast Facts: Operation BFF April 17-18
- 81 citations, 19 warnings
- 3 law enforcement agencies
- 5 crosswalks
- 2 Commissioners came out to observe
During Operation BFF, teams of law enforcement set up around a specific crosswalk. A plainclothes officer or deputy walks across the street, making sure to give drivers plenty of time to stop. If they don’t, uniformed officers and deputies pull them over and give them a $166 citation and three points on their license. This is also known as a high-visibility enforcement.
What’s the goal, you ask? To get more drivers to stop and allow pedestrians to walk safely through marked crosswalks. We were joined at the crosswalks by Commissioner Viviana Janer and Commissioner Cheryl Grieb, both from Osceola County. The commissioners expressed their support of Operation BFF and thanked law enforcement for their hard work.
Despite the fact that law enforcement posted signs warning of the crosswalk crackdown, BFF watched as drivers continuously blew through crosswalks, putting the pedestrian “decoy” in danger. At one time, we counted at least 10 drivers break Florida’s Driver Yield law!
Every year, the Best Foot Forward steering committee for each county chooses a list of crosswalks to focus on. The steering committees are made up of city and county planners, engineers, law enforcement, representatives from local school districts and more. The committees choose crosswalks based on several factors including: recent crash data, whether it’s near a school or playground, if there have been any changes to the crosswalk they want to track, etc. From that larger list, they choose a couple for each enforcement operation.
This time, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office enforced three crosswalks on April 17, and the Kissimmee and St. Cloud Police Departments enforced two on April 18. Here is a better explanation of why each crosswalk was chosen.
In addition to an enforcement operation that is visible to local residents, we want to spread the word across the area in hopes of educating more people. One way we do that is by launching a social media blitz. Between April 16-19, we reached an estimated 40-thousand people on social media—showing them the importance of yielding for people in crosswalks.