The Sunshine State gets this nickname for good reason, and what better way to enjoy the beautiful weather that led to the moniker then by taking a stroll through the neighborhood? Whether walking to enjoy the day, meet up with friends, or as a form of a transportation, those who choose to walk in Florida are taking on a risky behavior.
This is because Florida ranks top in the nation for fatal pedestrian accidents. A report recently released by Smart Growth America finds that Florida is home to seven of the ten most dangerous cities in the nation for pedestrians. Researchers with the study report Orlando took first, the Palm Bay Melbourne area fourth, Daytona Beach fifth, Sarasota sixth, Tampa Bay eight, Lakeland ninth and Jacksonville tenth.
What does this mean?
This translates to over 53,000 pedestrian deaths between 2010 and 2019 — and it is only getting worse. The report also explains that the rate of annual pedestrian deaths is now 45% higher than it was in 2010.
Is the state doing anything to address the problem?
The state has mostly designed its roadways for speed over safety. Measures like smaller lanes and slower speed limits help to reduce the speed of traffic, which is an important step towards safer roads. This is because slower cars lead to less severe accidents. 85% of pedestrians struck by a car traveling at 45 miles per hour do not survive. This is in stark contrast to the fact that less than 5% of those struck by a vehicle at 20 miles per hour suffer fatal injuries.
The state has taken steps to address the problem, including the passage of Complete Streets policy in 2014. This plan calls for a robust and context-sensitive approach to transportation planning. It recognizes that planning in an urban area will be different from more rural locations and calls for appropriate planning. Bike lanes and raised crossings in busy cities, for example, makes sense while use of paved shoulders and fencing is more logical in rural locations.
Although good on paper, critics argue the plan has not led to needed results. Until the state implements these changes, these critics call on drivers to do their part.
What can Floridians and visitors do to help reduce the risk of accidents?
Drivers are required to operate their vehicles with care. This means following posted speed limits and safely slowing down or stopping when a pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk.
Those who are struck by a driver who fails to operate their vehicle with care can also help increase the safety of their communities by holding that driver accountable through a personal injury lawsuit. This will lead to funds to cover the costs that result from the accident while also deterring other drivers from making the same mistake.