The state of Florida loves to be number one. Unfortunately, it is often first in categories that are not so desirable. That includes a recent listing of regions with the highest numbers of pedestrian deaths.
Florida Cities Lead Nation in Pedestrian Deaths
a 2016 Smart Growth America study, called “Dangerous by Design,” ranked 104 large metropolitan areas in the United States and compared the number of commuters who walk on the streets to the number of pedestrian deaths from 2005-2014.
Florida not only is home to the region that ranked first in pedestrian deaths, but Florida metropolitan areas held the top seven spots, and were home to nine of the top 11 regions. In what is at least some good news, none of the top 10 most dangerous areas were in South Florida. The bad news is that South Florida was number 11. The regions in Florida that ranked in the top eleven were:
- Cape Coral/Fort Myers
- Palm Bay-Titusville
- Dayton Beach
- Lakeland/Winter Haven
- Tampa Bay
- Miami/Fort Lauderdale
These figures are based on deaths per 100,000 people, and not total deaths. Obviously, there are more total deaths in the larger areas. Just looking at totals for cities or urban areas, Miami had the third most pedestrian deaths, behind Los Angeles and New York. If the statistics include total deaths in an entire State, Florida leads the nation in total pedestrian deaths.
Demographics of Pedestrian Deaths
The study found that minorities were the overwhelming victims of pedestrian car accidents. That means all minorities; even in places like North Dakota, the study found that Native Americans were much more likely to be killed in pedestrian accidents than others. In fact, nationally, Native Americans were the minority most likely to be victims per 100,000 people. Overall non-white victims were overrepresented in pedestrian deaths in 42 states.
Across all nationalities, elderly people were 50% more likely to be victims than younger people.
Looking at income, areas with lower household income were found to be more dangerous, and those who were less likely to have insurance were also more likely to be victims of pedestrian accidents.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
The study blames the high rates on poor infrastructure and infrastructure that prioritizes allowing cars to go by quickly and efficiently over pedestrian safety. This is how the study “Dangerous by Design” got its name in the first place.
Globally, the United States has one of the worst records of pedestrian deaths, despite having the resources that many other countries do not have. The U.S. has triple the fatalities of Sweden and Norway.
Many of these countries have instituted lower driving speeds. A Safer by Design study in 2015 found that the pedestrian death rate goes from 10% to 85% when the speed of the car hitting the victim is 30mph or 50mph, respectively.
Other countries are also widely using roundabouts, funding public transportation, narrowing roadways, and using wider pedestrian walkways. Nationally, areas in Minnesota, New York, and San Francisco have turned to traffic calming devices or modifications, and found decreases in pedestrian deaths.
Of course, pedestrian safety depends not only on the motorist, but also on the pedestrian. In many lawsuits involving pedestrian injury and death, the first defense used in an accident lawsuit is that the pedestrian was not looking out for his or her own safety, or worse, was outright breaking the law.
Some pedestrian laws are common sense. For example, it is illegal to walk on a highway or a highway ramp unless you are emergency or government personnel.
If there is a sidewalk, a pedestrian must use it; walking on the roadway is illegal. If there is no sidewalk and walking on the road is necessary, the pedestrian should walk on the left, facing oncoming traffic. The logic is that this position makes both driver and pedestrian more aware of each other. Bicyclists, however, may ride on the right.
If there is no crosswalk, the pedestrian must yield to cars. If there is a crosswalk, the pedestrian has the right of way so long as traffic signals such as “walk” signs are being obeyed. Even then, the pedestrian is required to look for oncoming cars, and walk on the right side of the crosswalk.
Cars must always yield to pedestrians who are in crosswalks. As long as the pedestrian is in or occupies the crosswalk, even if there is no electronic “walk” signal, the driver must yield. This is common sense; a driver never has the legal right to run over a pedestrian even if the pedestrian is acting illegally. It is also illegal for cars behind the stopped vehicle to try to pass or overtake the car in front.
Injury World Looks at Negligence
Legality and illegality may matter when it comes to criminal infractions or being arrested. In the personal injury world, even though legality will be considered, the main focus is on which party acted reasonably and had the last chance to avoid the accident.
Take, for example, the pedestrian who illegally steps into the crosswalk before a walk sign is given. A driver who hits that pedestrian will point out the pedestrian broke the law. However, if the driver had the chance to see, appreciate, and avoid the pedestrian but did not, the driver would still be negligent.
Likewise, a pedestrian who may have the right of way in a crosswalk but who jumps out into it without looking for oncoming traffic may be seen as negligent, having failed to take simple measures (looking back and forth) that would have avoided the accident.
After a car accident, you may have medical bills to take care of and insurances to manage. Contact Brill & Rinaldi today about a free consultation to discuss handling your finances and obtaining damages after an accident.