ORLANDO, Fla. – Stopping at a red light is something every motorist, bicyclist and pedestrian should do, but unfortunately, that's not always the case and the repercussions can be deadly.
In order to spread awareness about red light safety, officials from Alert Today Florida, the National Coalition for Safer Roads, the Florida Department of Transportation and other Orlando and Orange County organizations gathered Friday at Silver Star and Pine Hills Road as part of the Stop on Red campaign.
Officials chose that intersection because it's overrepresented when it comes to crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists, according to FDOT state bicycle and pedestrian safety coordinator Trenda McPherson.
"We have a very high representation of crashes involving red light running, especially those involving pedestrians and bicyclists that are being hit by cars at intersections and approaching intersections so it's super important to expect the unexpected. It can happen to you, it can happen to anyone and that life you save could be your own," McPherson said.
The unexpected happened to National Coalition for Safer Roads President Melissa Wandall in 2003. She was nine months pregnant when a driver running a red light sped through an intersection and struck the vehicle her husband was in. He died at the scene of the crash. Two weeks later, Wandall gave birth to their daughter.
Wandall has now dedicated her time and resources to sharing her story, hoping others will take red light safety seriously.
She was one of dozens of volunteers at the intersection handing out pamphlets, holding signs and urging drivers to use caution. She said she hopes that holding drivers and pedestrians accountable will help save lives.
“It’s really important that our motorists stop on red, they stop behind the white line and not go into the pedestrian crosswalk because that’s when a pedestrian could be seriously injured or killed and that’s something that we’re really trying to prevent,” Wandall said.
While National Stop on Red Week is held Aug. 5 – 11,Wandall reminded locals that safety should always be at the forefront for motorists and pedestrians.
"It only takes a moment. It only takes a moment to stop on red, and it only takes a moment to take a life. What we want to do is we want to understand, we need to understand the value of the human life," Wandall said. "Once somebody ends up hitting a pedestrian, a bicyclist, going through a red light and hitting another vehicle -- then no one wins. Not for that violator or for that victim, and families' lives are shattered forever, and it's about the value of the human life."
For pedestrians, being safe means always using the crosswalk and only crossing when the sign says to do so. For drivers, it means coming to a full and complete stop at the white line and only proceeding forward when the light is green or after looking both ways before turning right.
For more information, including additional safety tips, visit AlertTodayFlorida.com.