by Brad Kuhn - Director, Bike/Walk Central Florida
Metro Orlando ranks number one in the nation for pedestrian deaths and injuries. On average, a pedestrian is killed every week and two are injured every day.
Neighbors in Orange County are joining forces to make our streets safer, with the goal of cutting deaths and injuries in half over the next five years. Here's how:
Yield to pedestrians. It sounds simple, but only 5 percent of drivers in Orange County regularly stop when they see a pedestrian waiting to cross the street at a crosswalk.
It's the Law. State law requires drivers to yield– slow substantially or come to a complete stop – for a pedestrian at a crosswalk with no stop sign or traffic light. At a traffic light, cars turning left or right must also yield to pedestrians crossing on a walk signal. Orlando Police and the Orange County Sheriff's Office will be strictly enforcing this law. The penalty for failure to yield is $164 and 3 points on your driver's license.
It's a Life. When a driver hits a pedestrian, there are at least two victims – the pedestrian, who suffers the physical injury, and the driver, who has to live with what he or she has done.
Use crosswalks. As a species, humans are ridiculously bad at judging risk. More than 70 percent of pedestrian injuries and fatalities occur outside of a crosswalk. We're working on getting drivers to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. We need you to do your part by taking a few extra steps. The life you save may be your own.
Never step in front of a moving car. Drivers are required to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. But never bet your life on it. Wait until you are sure the cars in each lane are going to stop before crossing.
Thank drivers who yield. Courtesy promotes safety. Always thank drivers for yielding.
Ask yourself what kind of community do you want to live in. Do you want to live in a community where people are civil and courteous and look out for each other, or do you want to live in a community where drivers are angry and distracted and something as simple as crossing the street is fraught with peril.
The mayors and police chiefs of Orange County and City of Orlando, the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Orlando Police Department, Orlando Health, Lynx, Orange County Public Schools, MetroPlan Orlando, Florida Department of Transportation, Bike/Walk Central Florida and the Winter Park Health Foundation, are asking each of us to make a personal promise to be extra-vigilant, to obey the law and yield for pedestrians.
Linda Chapin, former Orange County Mayor and Emeritus Chair of Bike/Walk Central Florida, says, "After all, whether we drive, bike, or ride the bus as our primary transportation, we're all pedestrians at some point every day. It's time for us to put our best foot forward, and make it a habit to look out for each other as we walk and drive on our streets."