Gainesville Police recently teamed up with University of Florida police officers and Alachua County deputies for a pedestrian safety initiative after the area was seeing about three Florida pedestrian accidents a week. As part of the campaign, the police initiated a two-week-long crackdown on drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists who were not obeying crosswalk laws. The crackdown resulted in 153 citations and increased public awareness about crosswalk laws.
Florida law gives pedestrians right of way, meaning that motorists must stop or yield when pedestrians enter crosswalks in order to allow the pedestrians to cross the street. Motorists are also required to stop or yield for pedestrians entering intersections that do not have markings.
Police say that motorists appear to be getting the message. When a similar campaign was held earlier in the year, 1 177 citations were issued. The enforcement and increased education campaigns about crosswalk rules may be helping. The fines in place for violators may be an incentive, also. Motorists who do not yield to pedestrians at intersections or crosswalks face fines of $154.
In addition to targeting motorists, police were also targeting pedestrians and bicyclists who do not follow the rules. Pedestrians are expected to use crosswalks and intersections where they are available, rather than darting out into traffic. Pedestrians who choose not to use available intersections or crosswalks may face fines of $52.50. Pedestrians as well as bicyclists are expected to always obey traffic signs and lights, even when it safe for them to proceed around or in between cars.
Since Florida car accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists are an issue across the country, other areas – including Miami – may wish to consider adopting similar crackdowns as well as educational campaigns. The effort appears to have helped Gainesville residents appreciate the importance of crosswalk laws. Perhaps the same efforts could make Miami streets and other Florida streets safer as well.