Police Launch Safety Campaign for Pedestrians

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In his department’s newly-launched safety campaign, “Alert Today – Alive Tomorrow,” Wilton Manors Police Chief Paul O’Connell asks pedestrians to take steps to ensure their safety.

“We need your help to encourage your friends, your neighbors, and your family members to follow the rules of the road,” said O’Connell in a YouTube video that appears on the city’s website. In the video, O’Connell asks pedestrians to follow three tips: always use the crosswalk, wait for the crosswalk signal, and stay alert. The video was uploaded to YouTube last march but made a part of the new safety campaign.

But emphasizing the use of crosswalks is nothing new on the part of O’Connell. In June of 2015, he urged everyone to use crosswalks as a way to improve pedestrian safety.

As part of “Alert Today – Alive Tomorrow,” a Florida Department of Transportation program, police will be focused on major roads in the city, including Wilton Drive, Andrews Avenue, Oakland Park Boulevard, Dixie Highway, Powerline Road and Northeast 6 Avenue. The campaign will start off as an education program with police handing out safety pamphlets. Then, officers will begin issuing verbal and written warnings to pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists who violate state roadway laws. Officers will hand out citations in the final phase.

The safety of pedestrians along Wilton Drive has been a big issue in the last few years, and has included another campaign to ticket jaywalkers, protests by residents and visitors for more action by the city, and the effort to reduce the number of street lanes from four to two as a way to make the road safer.

In the past, commissioners have taken action to improve safety, including successfully lobbying the Florida Department of Transportation to install more crosswalks.

But while commissioners promised more action, they also said people need to take personal responsibility and use the crosswalks. “If we put 10 more [crosswalks] in it’s not going to make a difference,” said Commissioner Scott Newton in June of 2015. At the same time, Mayor Gary Resnick said people will continue to jaywalk, no matter where the signal is placed, if it’s more convenient. “You cannot change human behavior.”

A month later in July of 2015, Greg Futchi, 68, was killed while crossing Wilton Drive. According to police, Futchi and other pedestrians who were hit by cars were not using crosswalks.

For more information on the safety campaign, visit wiltonmanors.com/422/pedestrian-bike-safety.

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