MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla. — Brevard County 11-year-old Lauren Wengel is shining a light on pedestrian safety with her science project.

What You Need To Know

  • An 11-year-old girl from Brevard County is raising awareness about pedestrian safety with her science project

  • The experiment involved testing the effectiveness of flagged crosswalks at Ocean Avenue in Melbourne Beach

  • High visibility crosswalks can reduce pedestrian crashes by 40%, according to the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization

The fifth-grader from Gemini Elementary in Melbourne Beach knew what she wanted to do for her experiment after two deadly accidents involving pedestrians occurred in her area.

Lauren's experiment aimed to raise awareness of the dangers people face when crossing the street.

She became concerned about pedestrian safety after witnessing two girls getting hit by cars while crossing State Road A1A, one of whom went to her school.

Lauren decided to become a pedestrian herself and conducted her experiment at the Ocean Avenue crosswalk, which is equipped with bright orange flags like several others in the area.

Lauren's parents, Chad and Wendi, watched closely as their daughter attempted to cross the road with and without a flag.

According to Wendi Wengel, 16 cars passed by and none of them stopped when Lauren didn't have a flag. Once the experiment was over, 70% of the drivers stopped when Lauren had the flag.

While flagged crosswalks are tools often used by local towns like Melbourne Beach, they are not recognized as formal countermeasures by the Federal Highway Administration.

However, high visibility crosswalks, including signage, lighting, and road markings, can reduce pedestrian crashes by 40%, according to the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization.

Lauren's mom is proud of her daughter's hard work and caring for the community. "Just a little person waving a flag caught the attention of so many people," says Wendi.

Lauren says she's glad she put in the effort for her month-long project. "It's not safe to not use a flag," she says.

The Space Coast TPO is planning to repave the area of Ocean Avenue in the coming years and work with FDOT to enhance pedestrian safety in the area.

This could include more flags at crosswalks.