More than 50% of Central Florida drivers in Osceola, Orange, and Seminole Counties fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks within a quarter mile of schools, according to data collected by the Best Foot Forward for Pedestrian Safety (BFF) program.
Hoping to improve those statistics, law enforcement agencies in Osceola County will be conducting a high-visibility crosswalk enforcement operation dubbed Operation Best Foot Forward starting on February 7, 2023. These efforts align with Crossing Guard Appreciation Day, honoring those working to keep our kids safe, taking place this year on Friday, February 3.
During Operation Best Foot Forward, plainclothes officers and deputies will cross streets at marked crosswalks, giving drivers enough time to slow down and stop safely. Drivers who do not stop as Florida law requires will be pulled over and face a minimum $164 citation and three (3) points on their driver’s license.
The two-week-long effort also aims to recognize the hard work and dedication of those who protect Florida’s school children across the state. Crossing Guard Appreciation Day takes place on Friday, February 3, 2023. According to the 2022 proclamation by Governor Ron DeSantis, “Florida school crossing guards are professionals who provide an essential service to our communities and deserve special recognition for their tireless efforts.” The Best Foot Forward program aims to magnify that recognition.
“Our crossing guards have a very important job to do, to get our kids safely across the road and on their way to school,” said Emily Hanna, Executive Director of Bike/Walk Central Florida, the nonprofit organization that administers the Best Foot Forward program. “We are focusing our enforcement efforts at crosswalks near schools to remind drivers to slow down in school zones and pay attention, not only for our children but also for our crossing guard community. That extra few seconds you take to slow down and pay attention through the school zone could save a life.”
Operation Best Foot Forward is part of the Best Foot Forward coalition’s larger effort to improve road safety through consistent and persistent education, high-visibility crosswalk enforcement, and low-cost engineering updates. Studies show that driver behavior changes when you combine these enforcement strategies, education, and engineering over a sustained period.