The United States has more than 225 million drivers on the road. In 2017, there were 5,977 pedestrian fatalities throughout the country. They account for more than 16% of the total deaths from auto accidents. Florida accounts for nearly 8 million of those drivers on the road. Being in a motor vehicle on the roads of the Sunshine State is dangerous enough; as a pedestrian, matters are even worse. According to the FLHSMV, Florida is the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians and the Orlando metropolitan is the deadliest area in the state.
One of the main concerns is how the roads in the state were developed. Florida is one of the most popular places to bicycle/walk/skateboard/roller blade, yet the roads in the state were developed with drivers in mind. In the 1950’s when tourism began to take off, streets and highways were developed to make traffic congestion lesser and patterns move quicker. So, with the combination of high-speed roads, lack of safety precautions, and roads built for drivers; in general, pedestrians are left high and dry which leads to more fatal pedestrian accidents than any other state.
Florida’s roads were laid out long ago when there was no expectation of the number of pedestrians there now are. Even new interstates, highways, and expressways are not designed to be suitable for pedestrian use. Today, Florida has many regulations and laws regarding the safety of walkers and bikers. Here are some of the most important laws to recall whether you’re driving or walking.
- Right of way’s must be exercised with due care
- No standing in the roadway
- Pedestrians can cross mid-block, but must yield outside of crosswalks
- Drivers must oblige right of way to a pedestrian who is in a crosswalk
- If a sidewalk is provided, pedestrians must use it as opposed to the road
There are many more minor laws when it comes to pedestrian safety, but these are essential to keep in mind at all times. Due care is a term coined by legislature which means using the care that is needed. Instead of being careless when driving, exercising due care means driving and walking the way you are supposed to.
A commonality in Florida’s pedestrian statutes is the concentration on pedestrians themselves. Many people assume that it is always the driver’s who are at fault in pedestrian accidents. Yet, that is not the case, many statutes govern how pedestrians act. Practicing awareness and caution both as a driver of a motor vehicle and a pedestrian is vital to the decline in pedestrian fatality rates.
Dangers of Florida Roads
Throughout the country there are dangerous roads, Florida does not stand alone in this matter. However, there are some roads in Florida that are the most dangerous in the entire country. The most infamous is that of US Highway 19 in Pinellas County. The speed limit on US-19 is 50 MPH or more in most places. While that is ordinary, the number of crosswalks that litter the highways is not ordinary. For a road in which speeds usually reach upwards of 65 MPH, there are crosswalks everywhere.
Florida is an enormous state. Due to this fact, there are many roads which are not lined with streetlights. The FLHSMV says that three-quarters of all pedestrian accidents occur at night. The roads are dangerous enough during the day but add a great deal of roads that are pitch black and the recipe is a disaster.
Unfortunately, children are part of the equation as well. More than 240 children have lost their lives in pedestrian accidents in the past six years. Children are far less likely to obey all traffic laws, and practice awareness when walking. As a driver, if you’re near a school zone or park, practice even more caution than you normally would.
Pleasant weather, a population of more than 22 million people, and high-speed limit roads combine to make a state that is not safe for pedestrians. The only thing we can do to counter-act the issue is by practicing cautious driving.
Tips for Safety
Safety is a central concern for pedestrians. In order to make a change to Florida being the deadliest state for pedestrians, there are many tips to keep in mind. Pedestrians should always try to increase visibility of themselves to drivers. Wearing reflective gear while walking or having reflective lights on your bicycle can be a huge help to nighttime drivers. Following road signs is a no-brainer, but it is practiced less than we may think. Paying attention to the signs on roads and sidewalks is a simple act.
The easiest tip to use for both pedestrians and drivers is to always remain vigilant of each other. Drivers can let their guard down for seconds, and it could end in a tragedy. Pedestrians can miss signs and lead to their death. Anytime you drive or walk/bike remember to be alert.
Sharing the Road
Pedestrian safety does not just include walkers. It also includes the ever-present bicyclist. Florida is a beautiful place with great weather. Biking is a hobby and a passion for thousands of people. Bicyclists are permitted to use the bike lane on any state roads according to Florida law. That means being aware as a driver and obeying the laws that are in place to protect bikers.
Bicycling laws include, but are not limited to:
- Drivers must give three-feet of clearance when driving next to, or passing bicyclists
- When turning, yield to any cyclist in the bike lane
- Avoid using high-beam lights
It is important to share the road with the cyclists around you. Though it may seem unorthodox, remembering that not only cars are on the road is important.
The Coast-to-Coast Trail
As a solution to the ever-growing issue of pedestrian injury and death, Florida designed the Coast to Coast trail. Until 2014 when legislature approved 50 million dollars for the use of improving the trail system, the pedestrian trails Florida had were few and far between. You could not stay on the same path for more than 20 miles.
After the funding, construction began on the C2C trail that is set to be completed in 2022. It is now more than 80% complete. The idea was to create a continuous paved trail across the entire state of Florida. The path would stretch from the Gulf of Mexico in Pinellas County to the Atlantic Ocean near Kennedy Space Center. It will cover more than 250 miles when completed.
The completion of this trail will be a huge step in the safety of pedestrians throughout the state. In addition, there has already been talks of a plan to stretch the trail north and south as well.
When to Speak to an Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident, call the experienced Tampa car accident lawyers at Dennis Hernandez & Associates today at 855-529-3366. Dennis Hernandez and his passionate team of attorneys can help you receive the compensation that you may be entitled to.