We all remember being told as children to “look both ways before crossing the street.” We should all take this lesson to heart because America’s roads are quite dangerous for pedestrians. From 2008–2017, over 49,000 pedestrians were struck and killed by drivers across the country.
It’s even worse here in Florida: Our roads are the most dangerous in the country for pedestrians. Florida tops the rankings as the number 1 most dangerous state, and Florida cities make up just under half of the top-20 most dangerous metro areas.
On the one hand, many Florida roads are quite spacious and wide. While this might be good for drivers, it’s awful for pedestrians, especially Florida’s large elderly population, who may have mobility issues.
Additionally, our larger metros lack the public transit capabilities of other cities like New York or Chicago. Without a viable alternative, the density of pedestrian traffic and vehicle traffic will continue to increase.
Since these facts are difficult to change, the best way to avoid being injured in a pedestrian accident is to identify high-risk scenarios and exercise extra caution in those instances. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you legally have the right of way; at the end of the day, a 175-pound human doesn’t stand a chance against a 2,000-pound car.
Five High-Risk Scenarios for Pedestrians
According to crash statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the GHSA’s “2019 Spotlight on Highway Safety,” pedestrians should exercise caution in these five high-risk scenarios.
One: Not at Intersections
People might assume that the majority of pedestrians are struck by vehicles in crosswalks. However, the data do not bear this out. In 2018, only 25% of pedestrian fatalities occurred in or near an intersection. If you’re only being careful at crosswalks, you are only being safe 25% of the time.
Two: Local Roads and Highways
The GHSA’s report found that only 22% of the total pedestrian fatalities occurred on residential and downtown streets. A much higher percentage (59%) happened on so-called “non-freeway arterials,” which are the main roads that carry a city’s local and regional traffic. The lower number for in-town driving could be attributed to the lower speed limits on residential and downtown roads.
Unsurprisingly, the GHSA concluded that lighting conditions have a marked effect on pedestrian accidents. In fact, 76% of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark. If dawn and dusk hours are added to the mix, when sunlight is waxing and waning, we have another 4% or 80% of the total fatalities. Anyone walking or jogging at night should take extra precautions.
Four: Elderly More at Risk
Unfortunately, people over 50 years old are overrepresented in pedestrian accident deaths. This is a particularly troublesome finding for Florida, whose elderly population is sizeable and growing. This age group, especially those in the 75+ range, is more likely to experience challenges seeing, hearing, or moving, further exacerbating the problem.
Five: Lower-Income Communities
Finally, pedestrian deaths negatively correlate with an area’s average household income. In other words, the lower the median household income of an area, the more dangerous its streets are likely to be for pedestrians and vice versa. Given that low-income communities are less likely than higher-income communities to have well-maintained sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and streets designed for pedestrian safety, such a finding is not surprising.
Walk Happy and Be Safe
Florida’s sidewalks should be a safe environment for pedestrians. But all too often they are not. We encourage you to take these safety tips to heart so you can avoid being the victim of a pedestrian accident.
If you are, unfortunately, hit by a negligent driver while you are walking, jogging, or biking here in South Florida, you have rights. You should not have to pay to recover from injuries that were not your fault. We can help you exercise your rights to a full recovery—both physically and financially.
The pedestrian lawyers at Personal Injury & Accident Law Center would love to speak to you about your case and explain your legal options so you can make the decision that’s best for you. Call us today at (561)372-3800 to schedule a free case evaluation or fill out the form below.