Florida is among the most populus states in the U.S. It attracts many people because of its warm climate, theme parks, and sandy beaches. Every year, millions of tourists from across the world visit Florida. Due to the large influx of vehicles, Florida is not a safe state for pedestrians. Florida is the most dangerous state for pedestrians; the state records the highest number of people killed by vehicles while walking. Florida is home to the six most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians. If you suffer a pedestrian accident in Florida, Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney can help you seek compensation.
Pedestrian Accidents and Deaths in Florida
In Florida, a pedestrian is anyone using the roadways or the walkways such as skateboarders, roller skaters, bicyclists, runners, walkers, and sideway riders. Most pedestrian accidents occur due to a lack of attention by a motorist or negligence. When a pedestrian decides to walk on a high-level vehicle traffic street, he/she is in great danger of an accident. Most pedestrians do not consider the possible danger before choosing to walk on the busy streets in Florida. Whether a pedestrian waits for a protected sign to cross an intersection or stays on the pavement, it is hard to predict vehicle drivers' behavior.
According to Smart Growth America, nine of the deadliest cities for pedestrians in the U.S are in Florida. The survey conducted by Dangerous by Design in 2019 revealed some alarming facts. A very high number of people die on Florida roadways while walking every day. Pedestrians' deaths and accidents often occur due to fast-moving vehicles that disregard the safety of pedestrians. Little is done to protect the people who walk on the stress, especially vulnerable people.
Pedestrian accidents have been increasing over the years. However, 2016 and 2017 had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in Florida since 1990. In the past decade, the number of pedestrian fatalities increased by 35%. Dangerous by Design urges the policymakers in Florida to prioritize measures that enhance pedestrians' safety to help reduce the rate of fatality due to pedestrian accidents.
The 2019 edition of dangerous by Design revealed that between 2017and 2018, vehicle drivers hit and killed 49,340 pedestrians in the United States. This number translates to around 13 pedestrian deaths per day or one pedestrian death every 1 hour and 46 minutes. A sizable number of these pedestrians’ deaths occurred in Florida. The number of pedestrians who die on the roads compares to a jumbo jet full of people crashing every single month with no survivors.
The report by Dangerous by Design is a clear indication that the streets are not getting any safer because pedestrians' accidents and fatalities are on the rise. Every person is prone to a pedestrian accident; however, some people are at a higher risk. The vulnerable people include the old persons, people walking in low-income communities, and people of color, To help reverse this trend of pedestrian deaths and save more lives; there is a need to change the transportation system by putting in place better policies and programs.
Countless people suffer injuries due to pedestrian accidents every day. It is a sobering fact to know that Florida ranks among the major contributors of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in the U.S. There is no primary reason why the state of Florida has a high number of pedestrian accidents; the accidents occur due to a combination of many factors. According to a report released by Smart Growth America, the Pedestrian Danger Index in Florida stands at 182.0. According to this report, Florida recorded 5433 pedestrian deaths between 2008 and 2017. This gives an average of 2.73 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people. This average is higher than the national average of 1.55 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people. Therefore, the rate of pedestrian deaths in Florida is double that of other pedestrian-unfriendly states across the U.S.
Some of the major metropolitan areas where most of the population travels on foot are located in Florida. It is normal for pedestrian accidents to occur. However, in Florida, the rate of occurrence of a pedestrian accident is too frequent, which is a great source of alarm and concern. Some of the metropolitan centers with the highest numbers of pedestrians include Orlando Metropolitan, located in central Florida. Lauderdale-West Palm Beach Metropolitan area located on Florida's lower east coast also has a high number of pedestrians.
In ten years, Orlando recorded 656 pedestrian deaths due to pedestrian accidents. This rate of pedestrian deaths translates to a Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) of 313.3. On the other hand, Miami-Fort Lauderdale recorded 1,549 pedestrian deaths, which translates to a PDI of 153.5. Compared to the other cities in the U.S, Florida has many pedestrian accidents and deaths. For instance, New York is one of the most populated areas; one of its cities, Newark, is among the heavily walked metropolitan areas. However, Newark only has a PDI of 27.1. Other metropolitan areas with a low PDI include Chicago with a PDI of 34.5 and Washington DC with a PDI of 39.7.
For some time, pedestrian accidents injuries and deaths had declined in Florida. However, after decades of declines, pedestrian deaths shot up in Central Florida. After recording around 8,000 pedestrian deaths in 1979, the numbers declined to about half until 2009. However, in recent years, there has been an upward trend in pedestrian fatalities. No one should have to lose his/her life for nothing more than going out for a walk on the streets.
The Level of Risk
In 2017, a total of 5,977 pedestrians died due to vehicle crashes in the United States. This means that a pedestrian's death occurred every 88 minutes. An estimated 137,000 pedestrians sought treatment for injuries sustained in pedestrian accidents. Therefore, thousands of pedestrians suffer crash-related injuries every year. Some pedestrians do not succumb to the injuries; however, most of them suffer permanent scars. Studies indicate that pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to die in an accident than vehicle occupants whenever they hit a pedestrian.
Pedestrian accidents have increased with more than 50% in the past decade, yet there was no much change in the deaths of people riding in vehicles. This is according to an analysis of the federal and state data released in February 2020. The analysis also revealed that in 2019, 6,590 pedestrians died in pedestrian accidents. This number was an increase of 5% of the people who died in pedestrian accidents in 2018. The number of people who succumbed to pedestrian accidents in 2019 is the highest in more than three decades, yet most of these deaths occurred in Florida.
Pedestrian accidents had been declining steadily for more than 30 years until 2009 when there was a complete turn of events. Road safety experts can’t understand why pedestrian deaths rose from 1.3 per 100,000 in 2009 to the current 2.0 per 100,000 in 2019.
Alcohol-impaired drivers and pedestrians are at a higher risk of getting involved in pedestrian accidents. Around 47% of all the crashes that result in pedestrian death involve an intoxicated driver or pedestrian. Some fatal pedestrian accidents involve both an intoxicated driver and pedestrian.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents in Florida
Given the high number of pedestrian accidents in Florida, most people wonder why pedestrian accidents are common in the state. The main reason for the surge in pedestrian accidents is the carelessness of vehicle drivers. However, some people, including young children and older persons, are more prone to pedestrian accidents. Some of the leading causes of pedestrian accidents in Florida are:
Because of the high population of the aging people in Florida, the aging drivers are always to blame for pedestrian accidents. Older drivers have poor vision and are more likely to strike pedestrians. On the other hand, aged pedestrians are more likely to be hit by vehicles. Due to poor vision and low concentration, an older person might fail to notice an approaching vehicle and collide with vehicles. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, most pedestrian accidents occur at night due to poor visibility. It is also common for pedestrian accidents to occur on weekends or holidays when most people are out on the streets. Pedestrian deaths at night are mainly higher on weekends than on weekdays.
Pedestrians aged 65 years and above are at a higher risk of suffering injuries in pedestrian accidents. Of all the pedestrian accidents in the United States in 2017, more than 20% of pedestrian deaths involved persons above 65. The older people also accounted for more than 10% of all pedestrian injuries in the U.S. in 2017.
Just like older people, children are also at a higher risk of suffering injuries in a pedestrian accident. According to a study conducted in 2017, one in every five deaths of children in road crashes involves a pedestrian accident. The majority of pedestrian accidents involving children occur in residential neighborhoods. It is common for vehicle drivers to fail to notice children while reversing their vehicles or while driving in neighborhoods.
Lack of Knowhow by Pedestrians
Some advocates in Florida believe that programs to enlighten the pedestrians of the safety rules on the road or those that teach the drivers on pedestrian's safety issues could reduce some accidents. In Florida, the programs designed for pedestrian awareness of their safety are few leading to more pedestrian accidents. To reverse the trend of pedestrian accidents in Florida, proper programs and funding are necessary to sensitize people about their safety while on the roads.
In addition to the state authority, the Federal government has a role to play in prioritizing safer streets. Analysts point out that the unsafe streets are because of poor Federal policies. Therefore, the analysts feel that the Federal government has a role to play in restoring safety on the streets. The Federal government has to work alongside Florida to fix the streets and design streets that give safety a priority.
The Structure of Roads
The Transportation for America and Surface Transportation Policy Partnership Group in the U.S indicate that most roads are high-speed, high ways rather than clustered traditional streets. This has posed high-risk to pedestrians leading to more accidents.
In addition to the increase in the number of pedestrian accidents and fatalities, there is also an increase in the severity of the accidents. The majority of pedestrian accidents in Florida do not result in minor injuries. Instead, most of the accidents result in fatal injuries, most of which are incapacitating to the victim. There have been numerous efforts to enhance pedestrian safety in Florida. However, policymakers still have a long way to go. According to some advocacy groups, the fight against pedestrian accidents in Florida is exhausting. It could take many years before the policymakers implement the changes needed on Florida highways and streets. It might take a long time before the people of Florida see the needed changes on the roads to help reduce pedestrian accidents injuries and fatalities.
It is against Florida statutes 316.193 for any driver to drive the vehicle under the influence of alcohol. The majority of pedestrian accidents in Florida occur due to drunk vehicle drivers who are not keen to see pedestrians. Alcohol reduces the driver’s reaction times, impairs concentration, and makes the driver prone to causing the accident.
Many drivers, especially impaired drivers, rarely stop at mid-block crosswalks even if these areas are designated for pedestrian crossing. At times, the traffic is usually too congested, which makes drivers consider it a risk to stop and allow pedestrians to cross. Many pedestrians have to dodge their way across major lanes with high traffic. In such areas, it is common for impaired vehicle drivers to collide with pedestrians, often killing the pedestrians on the spot or inflicting severe injuries.
In Florida, drivers have to abide by the speed limit law of 30mph maximum in residential or business districts. It is against the law in Florida to drive at high speed; as Florida, statute 316.183 prohibits the drivers from driving their vehicles beyond the reasonable speed. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in Florida, pedestrians who are hit by a vehicle at the speed of 30mph or more sustain fatal injuries or die.
The majority of pedestrian accident deaths, around 79%, occur in urban settings. In Urban areas, most vehicle drivers are always in a hurry to run errands, get to work, or close a certain deal. It is hard to control a vehicle while moving at high speed. Therefore, most drivers might not be able to stop their vehicles when they spot a pedestrian crossing the street. According to Injury Facts, around 74% of pedestrian accidents occur on open roads, while around 25% of the accidents occur at intersections. The majority of the accidents (76%) occur at night, mainly due to poor visibility that makes it hard for drivers to spot pedestrians.
A high vehicle speed increases the likelihood of a pedestrian accident and the severity of injuries sustained after a pedestrian accident. The majority of pedestrian deaths occur at non-intersection locations, urban areas, and at night.
Florida statutes 316.305 prohibits drivers from using phones while driving. The law does not prevent the drivers from touching their phones; however, handling a phone while driving causes distraction. This has caused significant pedestrian injuries and death in Florida.
A driver could also engage in distracted driving by eating while operating a vehicle. A distracted driver might swerve out of the road and find pedestrians on the sidewalks. Cell Phone use is a leading distractor for both drivers and pedestrians. Many drivers in America are inclined towards heavier SUVs; whenever an SUV strikes a pedestrian, the pedestrian rarely survives.
Failure to Observe Traffic Signs
The vehicles entering an intersection with a stop sign are required to stop, according to Florida statutes 316.123. If a driver hits a pedestrian for failing to stop at the sign, he/she is liable for the accident. Most drivers cause pedestrian accidents in Florida due to negligence because they do not observe the right-of-way.
The majority of the roads in the U.S. were designed with drivers and not pedestrians in mind. Therefore, walking in the streets or along highways has become extremely deadly, especially at night.
The majority of pedestrian accidents occur at night due to poor visibility. For instance, nighttime deaths due to pedestrian accidents rose by 67% from 2009 to 2018. During the same period, pedestrian accidents occurring during the day increased by 16%. More than ¾ of all pedestrian deaths occur when it is dark.
With the rising trend of increase in nighttime pedestrian deaths, experts recommend prioritizing enforcement and engineering measures. Some measures that can help reduce nighttime pedestrian accidents include more nighttime patrols and better street lighting. The addition of flashing beacons at busy crossings could also make roads safer for pedestrians.
According to the Smart Growth analysis, the design of roads and streets has contributed to making Florida the most unsafe state for pedestrians. Even if driving got safer between 200-2017, the vehicle struck and killed more people between 2008 and 2017. This is because the initial design of the streets in Florida had vehicles and not pedestrians in mind. The design of the streets has not changed, even though more pedestrians continue to use the streets. The Design of the streets in Florida is dangerous for all people.
According to smart growth, Congress needs to adopt a proper federal Complete Streets policy to ensure that it has the safety of people in mind.
Demographic Analysis of People Involved in Pedestrian Accidents in Florida
According to a demographic analysis conducted on people involved in accidents in Florida, elderly people are more likely to suffer injuries in pedestrian accidents than younger people. The majority of pedestrian accident victims are above 60 years. The results of the analysis also revealed that more men than women suffer injuries in pedestrian accidents. Of all the people who suffer injuries in pedestrian accidents in Florida, 69% are men, while 31% are women. Men between 16 and 60 are more likely to cross the road at dangerous places than on marked crosswalks. On the other hand, many women do not cross highways in dangerous places. This disparity explains why more men than women become victims of pedestrian accidents.
Studies also reveal that women often cross the streets slower than men and younger people. In addition, women are less likely to engage in leisure walking than men; therefore, women are at a lower risk of getting hurt in pedestrian accidents. When a pedestrian starts crossing the street just before approaching motorists, motorists are likely to stop or reduce their speed if they were moving at a slower speed. Motorists are also likely to slow down for pedestrians if a pedestrian is crossing at a marked crosswalk.
The study also revealed that most pedestrian accidents occur when older or female drivers are behind the wheel. Older people have poor eyesight and might not see a pedestrian crossing the highway.
Injuries Sustained in Pedestrian Accidents
The injuries sustained in pedestrian accidents depend on several factors, including the height of impact and the pedestrian’s center of gravity. For most adult victims, the center of gravity is above the vehicle's bumper, while for children, the center of gravity is below the bumper. For adults, the bumper mainly strikes the leg region leading to leg injuries. When an impact occurs, the victim's body might rotate, leading to an impact of the head and shoulders with the windshield.
If a vehicle moves at low speeds, a pedestrian might remain at the vehicle's hoods after impact. However, at high vehicle speeds, the impact could cause a pedestrian to fly over the vehicle after impact, leading to further impact with the ground.
The injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident will depend on several factors:
- The angle of impact
- The speed of the vehicle
- The body part that comes into contact with the vehicle
- The pedestrian’s center of gravity
- The vehicle Design
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you have suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident due to a negligent driver or any other negligent party, you could seek compensation for your injuries. Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney can guide you on how to seek compensation. Contact us at 904-800-7557 and speak to one of our attorneys.