ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida's reputation as the worst place for pedestrians to cross a street anywhere in the country with 8,000 injured every year, has prompted a law enforcement initiative called "Operation Best Foot Forward."
The joint effort between Orlando Police and Orange County Sheriff's Office was established last June. Officers started by simply handing out warnings and educational fliers, including startling data that two or more pedestrians are injured every day in the Metro-Orlando area. According to police statistics one pedestrian is killed every week.
Now the warnings have stopped and police have started handing out fines.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office invited Local 6 to join them during an undercover crosswalk checkpoint near the 1900 block of Oakridge Road.
A detective posing as a pedestrian attempted to cross the street using a clearly marked crosswalk. In just one hour deputies issued 36 citations, half of the drivers were fined for failing to yield to the undercover pedestrian.
Sgt. Tony Molina of the Orange County Sheriff's motor unit, says last year alone 17 pedestrians were "struck by vehicles" as they tried to cross the "Oakridge corridor."
Molina says it surprising how many drivers say they are not aware of the law.
"Any time we start seeing these signs that show pedestrian crosswalk it should be an attention getter for people to say 'hey, you know what somebody might pop out let me slow down,'" said Molina
Under Florida Law, "drivers must yield to pedestrians at an intersection, even if there are no pavement markings or signs indicating a crosswalk."
According to the Walk Wise web site:
• Drivers may not pass cars stopped at a crosswalk. Passing at a crosswalk is a major cause of pedestrian injuries.
• Turning vehicles must yield to pedestrians crossing on a green light, or with a walk signal.
• Drivers must come to a complete stop at crosswalks with signs indicating that a full stop is required.
• Drivers face a fine of $164, and three points on the driver's license.
Pedestrians are encouraged to use those crosswalks, but to be clear it is not against the law for pedestrians to cross a street outside of a crosswalk, "except between traffic signals on consecutive corners."
Under state law pedestrians crossing outside of a legal crosswalk "must yield the right-of-way to cars."
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