ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A new study by Orange Country Traffic Engineers lists the top five schools with the highest number of pedestrian and bike crashes within a half-mile.
The Orange County Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Action Plan and study, part of an overall push for pedestrian safety, looked at the highest number of pedestrian and bike crashes across the county, and focused on the five schools within them.
"Schoolchildren are of course going to be a priority for us, they are vulnerable, they are young," said Christy Lofye, Orange County Traffic Engineers manager.
According to the study, Aloma Elementary School, Sadler Elementary School, Union Park Elementary School, Summit Charter School and Evans High School made up the list. Summit Charter School has since closed, so county officials have added Wetherbee Elementary School to their list -- this after Kevin Pope, 10, was hit and killed by a semitrailer while in a crosswalk a few weeks ago.
"Right now, staff are evaluating the need for a second school crossing guard at the school," Lofye said about possible improvements at Wetherbee.
Other roadway improvements traffic engineers are studying are signal timings. There are three options Lofye broke down Tuesday, including adding "No Right Turn on Red" signs, making left turns less complicated by installing green arrows, and changing crosswalk signals to allow pedestrians to cross first in what's called a Leading Pedestrian Interval, or LPO.
"It gives pedestrians a head start ahead of the vehicles so they can establish themselves in the crosswalk and be more visible," Lofye added.
It may take some time, as Phase 1 of the project was just complete.
"We are looking at it, we are taking it seriously and we are trying to come up with low-cost, high-impact safety improvements that can be implemented pretty quickly," Lofye said.
However, until that happens, county officials are focusing on pedestrian and bike safety especially in schools.
In fact, Wednesday morning, county officials will be at one of those top five schools, Union Park Elementary, for Bike to School Day, fitting children with helmets and educating them on how to safely get to and from to school every day.
"It's part of our Walk-Live-Thrive pedestrian safety initiative with the county," Lofye said. "We've been focused on pedestrian and bicycle safety for a long time for many years. It just takes a long time to affect change, go through infrastructure improvements and behavior improvements."
Below are statistics on the top five schools, as well as Wetherbee Elementary School:
Evans High School
187 total crashes
Aloma Elementary School
100 total crashes
Union Park Elementary
93 total crashes
Sadler Elementary School
87 total crashes
Wetherbee Elementary School
28 total crashes