FLHSMV Encourages Floridians to ‘Take the First Step’ Towards Pedestrian Safety During National Pedestrian Safety Month
~October Public Safety Campaign Highlights Best Safety Practices for Pedestrians~
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.– In recognition of National Pedestrian Safety Month, today, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) encourages Floridians to ‘Take the First Step’ toward pedestrian safety by raising awareness of best practices.
FLHSMV, its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), and our public safety partners hope to spread the word that staying safe on Florida’s roadways is a responsibility both motorists and pedestrians share.
“Pedestrians are urged always to remain alert and never assume a driver sees you,” said Colonel Gary Howze II, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “Motorists should not engage in dangerous driving choices that endanger vulnerable road users such as texting or distracted driving, impaired driving, and speeding.”
Florida Police Chief Association (FPCA) President and Clermont Police Department Chief Charles “Chuck” Broadway said, “October marks National Pedestrian Safety Month, and as the seasons change, so too should our vigilance on the roads. Here in Florida, where our roads are often bustling with both residents and tourists, the safety of every pedestrian is paramount. FPCA reminds every driver to be consistently alert and aware of those on foot, because attention behind the wheel can make all the difference. Let’s celebrate the beauty of our state by ensuring that every walk taken is a safe one.”
“Florida is a top tourist destination with hundreds of miles of beachfront communities and other globally recognized attractions. This means we have a significant number of pedestrians along our roadways. As we drive, please remember the safety of pedestrians is a shared responsibility. On behalf of Florida’s sheriffs, I recommend that everyone keep up with the news and tips from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ National Pedestrian Safety Month initiative. Stay safe, Florida,” said Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association.
Florida is known for its desirable weather, tourism, and beaches, all of which encourage activities such as walking. However, each year we see an increase in pedestrian crashes. In 2021, there were 9,569 pedestrian-involved crashes, and this year, the number has risen to 10,013.
Some data factors relating to pedestrian crashes have remained the same, except for increased numbers. The months of March, October, and December have the most pedestrian crashes, and ( from noon until 11 p.m.-6 p.m., danger increases for pedestrians due to heavier traffic and high pedestrian activity ) Friday and Saturday also stand out as the most hazardous days for crashes.
What does this tell us?
This data shows that pedestrians are most active when there may be heavy traffic, both when people leave work or on a Friday or weekend when people are out in their community. Since these data factors have stayed the same over the past few years, it is safe to assume it is critical to educate pedestrians and motorists on how crashes can be avoided.
Floridians and visitors can take the first step toward pedestrian safety by following best practices that keep everyone safe, whether driving or on foot.
Pedestrian Walking Tips:
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If one isn’t available, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
- Pay attention and always remain alert. Avoid wearing headphones so that you can hear the traffic and pedestrians around you. Never text or look at your cell phone when crossing the street.
- Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians, and look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right. If neither is available, locate a well-lit area with the best traffic view. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely and watch for traffic as you cross. Never enter the street from between parked cars. If crossing mid-block cannot be avoided, pedestrians must yield right of way to vehicles on the roadway.
- Do not cross an intersection diagonally except where and when official traffic control devices authorize crossing.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots.
- Be safe, be seen. Wear bright clothing and reflective materials during the day or use a flashlight at night. Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.
Motorist Safety Tips:
- Always look out for pedestrians. Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions like nighttime or bad weather.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk. Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see and stop for the crossing pedestrians.
- Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street. Follow slower speed limits in school zones and neighborhoods where children are present.
- A vehicle approaching a pedestrian legally crossing the street at an intersection must yield or stop to allow the person walking to cross. This law applies to bicyclists as well as motor vehicle drivers.
- If motorists fail to yield, they face a minimum citation of $164 and three points on their driver license it is the law. Worse, they can severely injury someone – even taking their life.
- All sides of the intersection are crosswalks – marked or not, regardless of whether the sidewalk is paved . The only exception is where a state or local government has explicitly closed a particular crosswalk, placing signage indicating its closure.
- As drivers, you must be prepared to slow or stop anytime – for emergency vehicles, buses, bicyclists, animals, other motorists slowing to turn, and other situations.
- Be extra cautious when backing up—look for pedestrians that may have moved into your path.
For more information on Pedestrian Safety Month, including safety tips for pedestrians and motorists, visit FLHSMV’s Pedestrian Safety webpage.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) provides highway safety and security through excellence in service, education, and enforcement. Learn more on our website.
The Florida Highway Patrol strives to achieve core values of courtesy, service, and protection. It is FHP’s job to help ensure the safety and welfare of millions of Florida’s residents and visitors every day.
To learn more about FHP or how to become one of Florida’s Finest, visit BeATrooper.com.