According to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), Florida has the dubious honor of being one of the most dangerous places for pedestrians. Four Florida cities — Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Miami— rank in the top 22 most dangerous pedestrian cities. In 2011, out of 4,432 pedestrian deaths, nearly 500 occurred in Florida.
Why are pedestrian accidents so prevalent in Florida?
Florida is home to a booming tourist economy. This plays a large role in the high amount of pedestrian accidents. When people visit from all over the world, they are unfamiliar with the state’s laws and roads. This leads to pedestrians taking too long to get across streets, inadvertently jaywalking, or trying to “dodge” cars to cross the street sooner.
Of course, tourists are not the only reason for the high pedestrian death rate. Other reasons include:
- Insufficient sidewalks or crosswalks
- Older street plans that can’t easily be adapted to account for changes in the ratio of cars to pedestrians
- Distracted drivers
- Walkers listening to music, texting, and not paying attention to their surroundings
- Poor city planning
- Improperly calibrated crosswalk guidance lights or signs that don’t allow enough time to safely cross the street before the vehicles can proceed
The Federal Response
The federal government recognizes the severity of the pedestrian fatality problem across the United States. To combat it, they’ve teamed up with the Department of Transportation to launch a new program. Called Everyone Is A Pedestrian, it raises public awareness of the issue. Their website has resources for pedestrians, drivers, city planners, municipal leaders, and anyone else who can make a change.
There are many things both pedestrians and motorists can do to stay safe, even on Florida’s busiest roads. For motorists:
- Slow down in high traffic areas, like schools and parking lots
- Never drive while distracted, intoxicated, or drowsy
- Refrain from speeding or other reckless behavior
For pedestrians, following the rules leads to better safety. Always use crosswalks and sidewalks. If there are none, they should walk against the flow of traffic.
Furthermore, pedestrians should wear reflective or bright clothing to make themselves more visible, especially at night or when the weather is inclement.
12 pedestrians are injured every day. Are you one of them? Would you like more information about how to hold the at-fault driver responsible? If so, consult an experienced Florida personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.