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Crosswalk crackdown – Operation Best Foot Forward featured in Orlando Sentinel

Local law enforcement joined Best Foot Forward on Wednesday, June 14 for another Operation BFF—and the results of monitoring six Orange County crosswalks provided a glimpse at how many Orlando drivers still fail to yield for people crossing the road.

The Orlando Police Department (OPD) and Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) handed out a total of 90 tickets and 35 warnings to drivers who failed to stop or even slow down for the decoy officers in the crosswalks. OPD Sgt. Jeffery Blye told reporters who covered the event that that chances of death from being struck by a vehicle increases on roads with 40 mph speed limits and above.

OPD Detective Jason Hajek was one of the decoys crossing roads to see if drivers would stop. One of these crosswalks was at South Conway Rd. and Hargill Drive, where the speed limit is 40mph. “This particular crosswalk,” he commented, “was rather egregious today for violations, so much so that we weren’t able to stop everybody—we were so busy.”

Some drivers don’t stop because of distraction (changing the radio station, checking a text message—to name a couple), others because they don’t know that yielding for pedestrians is the law. Operation BFF is Best Foot Forward’s Triple E approach in action: Educating drivers about the law, Enforcing yielding where enforcement is most needed, and spotlighting Engineering that keeps pedestrians safe, like smart crosswalk placement and lower speed limits.

Read the full article below, and to see a video showing crosswalk enforcement and some of Detective Hajek’s close calls, check out the Orlando Sentinel’s article on Operation BFF.

Cops serve as decoys during crackdown on drivers ignoring pedestrians in crosswalks
Harry Sayer
Orlando Sentinel
June 14, 2017

Orlando police officers and Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies spent Wednesday walking in front of traffic during their “Best Foot Forward” operation.

“Operation BFF,” created by pedestrian-safety nonprofit Bike/Walk Central Florida and local law enforcement, has undercover officers pose as pedestrians in Orange County crosswalks. Drivers who didn’t stop were given citations or lectured on the dangers of speeding.

One of the crosswalks was at the intersection of Hargill Drive and South Conway Road, where the speed limit is 40 mph. Orlando Police Detective Jason Hajek served as the pedestrian decoy, walking back and forth across the street in the crosswalk. Some drivers stopped for him, but many didn’t.

At one point, a large Bud Light truck hit the brakes at the last minute, stopping right in front of Hajek.

“Somebody like him, fortunately, was able to stop at the very last second,” Hajek said. “But if someone like him was checking his phone or mirror and wasn’t paying attention … that would be a fatal accident.”

Hajek said this was his first time as a decoy.

“It’s frightening and it’s frustrating, but more so frustrating, because you know people aren’t doing this intentionally,” he said. “It can easily be solved by paying attention to what’s in front of you.”

The Orlando Police Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Office issued a total of 90 citations and 35 warnings Wednesday, according to Amanda Day, executive director of Bike/Walk Central Florida,

“The frequency of mortality increases at 40 mph and above,” Orlando Police Sgt. Jeffery Blye said. “The chances of death increase with higher speeds, and unfortunately we have some roads with some high speeds here.”

According to a Federal Highway Administration safety manual, pedestrian fatalities increase from 5 percent at 20 mph to 85 percent at 40 mph.

Metro Orlando is the third-most dangerous place in the nation for pedestrians, according to a 2016 report by Smart Growth America. In 2014, the same report deemed Central Florida as the deadliest.

The Florida Highway Patrol investigated 25 fatal pedestrian crashes in Orange County in 2015 and 42 in 2016, said FHP spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Montes.

The crosswalks enforced were chosen based on factors including the speed limit, number of crashes and proximity to a school, Day said.

Other intersections with increased enforcement Wednesday included: Woodbury Road and Mallory Circle; Pine Hills Road and El Trio Way; and Edgewater Drive and Shady Lane Drive.

Citations can be a deterrent, but Day said drivers need to change their habits.

“It’s taken about 50 years to design all of these roads, because we’re such a car culture,” she said. “It’s going to take a long time to change behaviors,”

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