The unfortunate truth is that pedestrians are seriously injured or killed in pedestrian accidents every day in Florida. So much so, that Florida ranked first in the nation for Pedestrian Accidents in a 2016 research study.
In its annual Dangerous by Design report, the advocacy group National Complete Streets Coalition – SmartGrowthAmerica studied accident reports from across the country, focusing not only on states but also on metropolitan areas.
Nine Florida Metro Areas Rank in Top 15 Most Pedestrian Accidents
According to this study, Florida is the most dangerous state for walkers. As for pedestrians, the following nine metro areas are among the Top 15 Most Dangerous Metro Areas for Pedestrians:
No. 1 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL
No. 2 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL
No. 3 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
No. 4 Jacksonville, FL
No. 5 Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL
No. 6 Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL
No. 7 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
No. 8 Jackson, MS
No. 9 Memphis, TN-MS-AR
No. 10 North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL
No. 11 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
No. 12 Bakersfield, CA
No. 13 Birmingham-Hoover, AL
No. 14 Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR
No. 15 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX.
Furthermore, according to a review by the U.S. Department of Transportation of literature about vehicle travel speeds and pedestrian speeds, which contained data compiled from State of Florida, pedestrian deaths increase significantly when they are hit by a car going 40+ mph. Survival rates increase to over 90% chance of survival if the car is moving at 20 mph or less.
Are Pedestrian Accidents Common For People of All Ages?
The Dangerous By Design report confirms there is a very high risk of being hurt in a motor vehicle accident while walking here in Florida. It’s a danger that faces pedestrians of all ages although the data shows that people of color and older adults are disproportionately represented among pedestrian deaths compared to their representation in the population.
For experienced personal injury attorneys, this isn’t news. Sadly, representing pedestrians who have been seriously injured in an accident has become commonplace.
For details about the type of damages a pedestrian can recover in this type of car accident, read one of our previous articles, “Pedestrian Accidents in Florida.”
“It’s the Pedestrian’s Fault!”
Pedestrian car accident victims, just like any other injury victim, bear the burden of proving their case with admissible evidence. Meaning, they must show that the driver was negligent and that negligence is what caused the accident.
For pedestrians, this can be especially difficult because all too often the driver points the finger at the person on foot as the cause of the accident.
Even the police officer on the scene of the accident may have a bias against the pedestrian in this type of car accident. Rarely do the police charge the driver in a pedestrian accident with any kind of misdemeanor (much less a felony).
The bias against pedestrians is most obvious when dealing with automobile insurance companies because insurance adjusters, as well as insurance defense lawyers, quite often deny these claims based upon the pedestrian being the cause of the accident for failing to yield the right of way or failing to cross at a crosswalk.
Government Attitude to Pedestrian Accidents Is Changing
Fortunately, this prejudice against the pedestrian in Florida pedestrian accidents is changing. Agencies and officials with growing concern over the high number of pedestrian accidents here are taking the time to learn what is happening and how to reduce the danger.
The powers that be are realizing that Florida roads and traffic patterns have not been designed for walking pedestrians. See the article written by Douglas C. Lyons in the Sun Sentinel for details: “Cultural shift key to liberating South Florida pedestrians.”
The reality is that motorists are driving too fast; they are driving without regard for those with whom they share the road; and everyone is moving along routes that have ignored the safety of pedestrians in their design.
Changes to Make Florida Safer for Pedestrians
Accordingly, the following changes are being discussed and some are being implemented in Florida to address the high risk of pedestrian accidents. Each of these proposals offers a partial solution to the current epidemic of pedestrian accidents and may help to alleviate the overall bias against the pedestrian.
These ideas and proposals may also help the pedestrian demonstrate how fault for their accident lies with the driver or the design of the street or the traffic pattern.
1. Lowering Speed Limits on State Roads
The Florida Department of Transportation has a pilot program underway in Tampa Bay to test if lowering speed limits will impact the number of pedestrian accidents. It’s part of an overall program called the Complete Streets Initiative.
How does it work? FDOT lowers the speed limit on state roads currently at 40-45 mph to much lower speeds. Some will be as slow as 25 mph.
Hopefully, this will not only allow the driver to be more aware of pedestrians sharing the roadway with him or her but if there is a pedestrian accident, the victim will have an increased chance of survival.
2. Installing Roundabouts
The Florida Department of Transportation is building roundabouts in Florida, beginning with three traffic roundabouts on U.S. Highway 27 in Leesburg.
Roundabouts replace the typical intersection, eliminating the need for traffic signals and stop signs and they minimize the chances of a pedestrian being hit by motor vehicles because they slow down traffic at intersections.
In fact, FDOT statistics show that roundabouts have 90% percent fewer accident fatalities and 75% fewer injuries. Pedestrian accidents are lowered by 10 to 40 percent.
Additionally, drivers running red lights are a big cause of pedestrian accidents. Roundabouts should help prevent these kinds of accidents because drivers have to yield before entering an intersection containing a roundabout.
3. Cities Are Redesigning Dangerous Roads
Florida cities are considering redesigning roadways that have a high pattern or history of pedestrian accidents. In Tampa, for example, authorities are considering a redesign of two miles along Fowler Avenue, which routes near the University of South Florida campus.
It is considered one of the most dangerous roads in the county, and it routes through an area with a growing population. The redesign will provide things like sidewalks and walkways along this stretch of road.
This plan is part of the Tampa Innovation Alliance, working with the FDOT Complete Streets Initiative.
Some roads are simply not designed with pedestrians in mind. They fail to have sidewalks, or they have barriers in place that prevent drivers from having a clear view of people walking or jogging alongside the traffic path. Redesigning these roads will help to lessen pedestrian accidents.
4. Fort Lauderdale Joins Vision Zero
In 2015, Fort Lauderdale was the first city in Florida to join with Vision Zero. The goal of this global initiative is to work toward a Zero Percentage of Road Deaths by the year 2035. Broward County is one of the city’s partners.
This is a sweeping project involving a five-fold approach: education, engineering, evaluation, encouragement, and enforcement. Included in the plans for preventing pedestrian accidents are more availability of sidewalks and revamping the management and flow of traffic and traffic congestion.
It is a worthy goal for Broward County to have zero traffic fatalities and to consider all motor vehicle accidents as preventable crashes. As noted above, this attitude may help change the bias against pedestrians as being the cause of pedestrian car accidents.
5. Changing the Landscape in Broward County
In Broward County, steps are being taken to protect pedestrians from being hit by cars in a basic way: they are changing the landscape of streets with things like wire mesh and palm trees.
By installing rows of palm trees surrounded by wire mesh, medians in some high danger areas are blocked from pedestrian traffic. This prevents walkers from crossing larger streets and moves the pedestrian traffic to safer crossing zones.
People living in South Florida are well aware that some roadways are not built for pedestrians. There can be several lanes of traffic with few intersections along the route to provide for crossing. Pedestrians are tempted to cross via medians because they may have no other option. Routing pedestrians to safer crossing spots will help alleviate these accidents. So will recognition that landscaping is a factor in pedestrian accidents.
6. Red Light Cameras in Broward and Miami-Dade
Right now, the Broward County cities of Davie, Sunrise, Tamarac, West Park, and 16 different cities in Miami-Dade County all have red light cameras installed on streets to catch drivers exceeding the speed limit. Pembroke Pines and Boynton Beach are turning their red light cameras back on this year.
Red Light Cameras are controversial, but statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reveals that pedestrian accidents drop almost 20% for intersections that are monitored by a red light camera.
Bottom line: Fast moving vehicles cause a lot of pedestrian fatalities that lower speeds do not. Speeding drivers are less likely to be aware of their surroundings to see people who are walking or jogging alongside the traffic path. Red light cameras may discourage speeding drivers which in turn may save the lives of pedestrians in South Florida.
What Should You Do If You Are Involved in a Pedestrian Car Accident?
The outcome of a pedestrian accident claim is dependent upon its individual facts and circumstances. No assumptions should be made regarding cause or who was at fault.
Because of the changing attitude towards pedestrian accidents, there are several essential questions that should be considered when evaluating the strength of a claim. For instance:
- Was the location of the car accident designated to have its speed limit lowered? If so, speeding is likely a known problem which may have contributed to the accident;
- Is a roundabout planned for the intersection? If so, then there may be a pattern of drivers running the intersection, speeding through it, or otherwise endangering pedestrians here and causing accidents;
- Have the authorities or researchers studied this route and determined it to be dangerous?
- Are red light cameras planned for this accident site, or have they been installed but turned off? Then this location may be known as having a problem with drivers speeding through the intersection.
Having an experienced personal injury lawyer to help investigate and pursue a pedestrian accident is important, given the assumptions and bias that exist regarding these claims. The police as well as the insurance adjusters will likely assume the pedestrian is to blame and caused the pedestrian accident. Fault must be established with facts, not assumptions.
A good piece of advice if you have been injured in a pedestrian accident is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.
For more information:
- What must a pedestrian prove in order to win their personal injury lawsuit? (video)
- Car Accidents With Company Cars or Commercial Vehicles: What is Respondeat Superior?
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
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