After being in place for nearly a year, the five pedestrian traffic lights along Highway 98 have lived up to city officials' expectations.
In mid-July 2016, five pedestrian lights were installed along Highway 98. They are intended to help the increasing pedestrian traffic trying to cross Destin's main thoroughfare.
“We are pleased how they function, and we see them being used everyday,” said Doug Rainer, the city’s spokesman. “They are doing what they are supposed to do.”
The traffic lights are only activated when pedestrians press the button.
“The light will only turn red when a pedestrian presses the button to walk across safely,” Rainer said.
After a pedestrian pushes the button to cross, traffic lights won’t immediately turn red. Instead, they are synced with other traffic lights.
“This provides a safe break in traffic when used properly,” he said.
So far in June, there have been two pedestrian accidents on Highway 98. The first occurred on June 3 when 60-year-old William Trekell attempted to cross near 1063 E. Hwy. 98 and was hit by a woman driving westbound in a Nissan Sentra. Trekell was taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center with serious injuries, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
“He (William Trekell) was using a crosswalk, but did not push the button and just walked across,” said Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office’s Sgt. Jason Fulghum.
On June 7, 40-year-old Margaret Beck, of Lake Charles, Louisiana, was struck by a car and killed while trying to cross Highway 98 near the intersection with Stahlam Avenue.
“This accident is still under investigation and we are trying to figure out if she was using the crosswalk or not,” Fulghum said.
Fulghum encourages people not to jaywalk and use the crosswalk properly.
“Motorists need to remember and be mindful that not everyone is going to utilize the crosswalks,” he said. “Especially during this time, there are going to a lot of pedestrians in the area.”