FL Senate Committee unanimously approves Sophia Nelson Pedestrian Safety Act

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A proposed bill aimed at preventing fatal crashes in certain Florida crosswalks was approved by a State Senate Committee Wednesday.

Sen. Keith Perry (R - Alachua County) is pushing the “Sophia Nelson Pedestrian Safety Act.”

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Nelson was just 12 years old when she died after being hit by a car while crossing Highway A-1A in Satellite Beach.

The crosswalk Nelson was using- called a mid-block crossing because it’s not at an intersection- had flashing yellow lights, but no red lights prompting the driver to stop.

The 83-year-old man who hit Nelson was never charged after investigators determined he’d slowed for the yellow lights, but didn’t stop because he said he didn’t see a person crossing.

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The bill proposed by Sen. Perry would require a traffic study for any mid-block crossing on a road with a speed limit above 30 miles-per-hour.

It would also call for new technology that would let drivers know to slow and then stop while also letting pedestrians know when it’s safe to cross.

“The issue now is we have drivers who don’t know when to stop or how fast to stop and pedestrians with a false sense of security,” Sen. Perry said Wednesday. “This would help eliminate that.”

The bill was passed unanimously Wednesday by the Senate Committee on Transportation.

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A similar bill passed the Florida house in 2020 but that version died in the Senate. This year, both bills appear to be moving forward.

According to analysis by the state, it would cost approximately $15 million to address the mid-block crossings on state roads. There would also be additional costs to local counties and cities which could vary depending on how many crosswalks they have.