Just a few weeks ago, our car accident attorneys urged Florida drivers to be aware of bicyclists and pedestrians on the roads, and to stay alert at all times to avoid a potentially deadly accident. Now, Transportation for America (T4 America) has released a new report that highlights the tragedy of pedestrian accidents in Florida. The report concludes Florida cities are among the most dangerous in America for pedestrians.

Transportation for America, the largest coalition working on U.S. transportation reform, analyzed pedestrian accident data from 2000 through 2009. The findings are startling: 688,000 pedestrians were injured and 47,700 were killed nationwide in accidents with vehicles during the 10-year period. The number of fatalities accounts for 12 percent of all traffic deaths.

In Florida in 2010, 499 pedestrians lost their lives and 7,290 were injured after being struck by vehicles.

Ranked by the Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI), or the rate of pedestrian deaths relative to the amount of walking in that area, the top 10 most dangerous large metropolitan areas for pedestrians according to T4 America are:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
  • Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX
  • Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
  • Memphis, TN-MS-AR
  • Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
  • Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
  • Orlando-Kissimmee, FL

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state of Florida has a high population of residents over the age of 65 — 17.2 percent — compared to 12.9 percent nationally. When additional retirees take up temporary residence in Florida during the winter, the number of persons aged 65 or older climbs even higher.

T4 America took this into account and determined that even though Florida is a haven for retirees, the senior population is not overrepresented in pedestrian accidents. Twenty-two percent of pedestrian deaths in Florida in the years studied were adults 65 years and older, the same as the national average. However, the data revealed that older adults are 96 percent more likely to be killed while walking than those under 65 years of age.

So why does Florida have such a high rate of pedestrian accidents? As with most large cities, T4 America notes that streets are designed for vehicular traffic, not pedestrians: “Over the past 50 years, traffic engineers have taken it as their mandate to move the most traffic as rapidly as possible, often at the expense of safety and quality of life.”

Further, the report cites the lack of street lighting, crosswalks, sidewalks, pedestrian refuges, and public and school bus shelters as dangers to pedestrians. The report found that neighborhoods that provide sidewalks often either have their crosswalks spaced too far apart from one another to be considered convenient for pedestrians, or lack crosswalks.

The Florida Dept. of Transportation notes that even though sidewalks may be present, the condition of them may not be conducive to use. Paved sidewalks can at times be impractical to use or inaccessible for individuals with mobility impairments due to illegally parked vehicles, upheaval caused by tree roots, and such circumstances. When sidewalks are left unpaved, natural landscaping or vegetation, nearby ditches, muddy or wet conditions, and hidden hazards can also make it impractical for pedestrian use.

Florida law states that when sidewalks are not present, pedestrians should walk on the shoulder on the left side of the roadway facing traffic, which may approach from the opposite direction. In addition, when a pedestrian is crossing the street at a crosswalk, traffic shall stop to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway once the pedestrian steps into the crosswalk or is in the crosswalk.

One of the primary recommendations by T4 America is for the U.S. to adopt a national “complete streets” policy. The goal is for the design of all federally funded road projects to take into account all users of the roadways, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation users.

Lee County, located in Southwest Florida, has adopted a “Complete Streets” resolution, committing the region to making roads safe for all users. While many cities and towns are making great strides in improving the infrastructure for pedestrians, more needs to be done to keep all Florida residents safe when traveling our roadways.

When sidewalks are not available, pedestrians are forced into the roadways with fast-moving traffic. Pedestrians should ensure they are visible and stay as close to the curb as possible to give motorists plenty of passing room.

Our Florida accident attorneys continue to urge our drivers to please stay alert and share the road with pedestrians and bicyclists when driving in and around town.

About Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney

The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, has provided professional and compassionate legal assistance to personal injury and accident victims in South Florida and the Treasure Coast since 1975. The firm’s practice areas include car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, product liability, dog bite injuries, swimming pool accidents, slip and fall injuries, medical malpractice, and wrongful death claims.

Our law firm represents victims of car accidents across South Florida, including Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Jupiter, Stuart, Okeechobee, Vero Beach, Palm Beach and throughout South Florida and the Treasure Coast. Call 1-800-299-8878 now to speak with a knowledgeable Florida car accident attorney or fill out our online contact form.