Florida may be a popular tourist destination known for its world-famous theme parks, gorgeous beaches, and lively cities, but to 21 million residents, it’s also called home. Each day, there are millions of people wandering the streets and roads that comprise our state’s most rural and urban counties.
Last January, the National Complete Streets Coalition collaborated with Smart Growth America to release a report, Dangerous by Design 2019, that ranks each state based on their respective number of pedestrian fatalities. In Florida, there were 5,433 pedestrian fatalities reported in the years spanning 2008 and 2017. According to the Dangerous by Design 2019 report, this statistic marks Florida as the country’s most dangerous state for wayfaring travelers.
But what factors make Florida so dangerous to pedestrians?
Factor 1: Advancements in Technology
Automakers and tech companies are constantly developing new safety features that can predict and compensate for moments of driver negligence. For instance, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can automate repetitive and challenging tasks to decrease the likelihood of an accident.
This technology encompasses a wide range of cutting-edge programs, including:
- Automatic parking systems
- Blind spot detection systems
- Collision avoidance systems
- Driver drowsiness detection systems.
Of course, like all good things, there is a downside to this technology in that it doesn’t encourage a driver to actively pay attention to the road or their surroundings. In fact, many drivers expect their cars to correct their mistakes automatically. Another factor to consider is that older people – who comprise approximately 23% of Florida’s overall population – often struggle to use in-vehicle technology. According to a report released by the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety, people over the age of 60 are more likely to be distracted by in-vehicle technology compared to younger drivers, a scenario that can easily result in unintentional pedestrian injury or death.
Factor 2: Distracted Driving & Smartphone Technology
People of all ages find it difficult to keep their eyes and hands away from their smartphones. Unfortunately, vehicle manufacturers are incorporating smartphone technology as a selling point and contributing to the country’s distracted driving epidemic. Granted, the ability to stream music, make hands-free calls, and distract kids with movies is both fun and convenient. However, a driver can experience “inattention blindness” when their attention isn’t 100% focused on the road. As the National Safety Council, explains, a driver can easily cover the length of a football field in the few seconds it takes to read or send a text, and could “easily miss a stop sign, pedestrian or another vehicle in your path.”
Factor 3: Our Streets Are Not Designed for Pedestrian Safety
Florida sees over 111.8 million domestic travelers and 10.8 million international travelers each year. Consequently, our urban planners and civil engineers are constantly redesigning our most populated cities to cater to the needs and interests of motorists. As the Dangerous by Design 2019 report notes, states like Florida “design streets that are dangerous for all people” because “federal policies, standards, and funding mechanisms…prioritize high speeds for cars over safety for all people.”
The only way to decrease the annual number of traffic-related fatalities in Florida is to adopt “Complete Streets.” These streets are designed to facilitate safe travel for all people, including pedestrians, transit riders, cyclists, and motorists.
A Complete Streets plan can comprise the following pedestrian-friendly elements:
- Bike lanes
- Pedestrian signals
- Median islands
- Curb extensions
- Bus lanes
- Public transportation stops
The Florida Department of Transportation is currently working with local lawmakers to implement Complete Streets programs in our state’s most dangerous cities, including Waldo. But safety experts estimate that it will take decades to fully restructure our Florida’s deadliest streets because each project is so expensive and time-consuming.
8 Pedestrian Safety Tips
To keep you safe in the interim, the pedestrian accident lawyers at Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC have compiled a few safety tips to help you navigate the roads and streets of Florida:
- Plan a safe walking route in advance.
- Walk defensively at all times – never assume that a driver will see you or stop for you.
- If the sidewalk isn’t available, make sure you’re facing oncoming traffic.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals.
- Do not walk to or from home if you’ve been drinking.
- Only cross the street at designated crossing areas.
- Don’t look at your cell phone when you’re crossing a street.
- Wear bright colors and/or reflective tape if you’re taking a stroll at night.
Do You Require Legal Representation After a Pedestrian Accident?
Contact the pedestrian accident attorneys at Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC if you or a loved one has been harmed by the actions of a negligent driver. Our compassionate and experienced legal team is committed to helping the wrongfully injured recover restitution that accounts for their financial losses.
Our lawyers are available to you 24/7. Contact Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC at (866) 675-4427 to schedule a free consultation today.