Can City Planners Fix Florida’s Pedestrian Accident Problem?

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Pedestrian accidents can be catastrophic because, when a car hits a walker, it’s likely the driver didn’t regulate speed, veer, or otherwise work to avoid the incident until the last second. Otherwise, he or she could have avoided it. Florida has seen more of this kind of accident than other states. The hope is now that the city planners can fix Florida’s pedestrian accident problem, but, for those who have already suffered harm, their efforts are too little, too late. Hopefully, the work of city planners can curtail this phenomenon and protect walkers from distracted or careless drivers.

Statistics for Pedestrian Fatalities in Florida

The problem for Florida pedestrians isn’t new, though it is worsening. Here are the most recent statistics on pedestrian accidents in Florida:

  • In 2018 there have been 5,132 pedestrian crashes. Of those, 372 have been fatal. In 2017, the United States reached a new 25-year high with 6,000 pedestrians killed.
  • Only five states accounted for 43% of the total pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2017; Florida, California, Texas, New York and Arizona.
  • According to a recent study,eight of the top ten most dangerous areas for pedestrians are in Florida.
  • The elderly, the poor, people of color, and individuals without health insurance are more likely to live in areas most dangerous for pedestrians.
  • Lower gas prices and a strengthening economy have put more cars back on the road.
  • Distracted driving is on the rise due to a growing dependence on technology. Distractions are the number three cause of pedestrian-related accidents.
  • 33% of pedestrian fatalities involved a pedestrian with a blood alcohol level above the legal driving limit.
  • 75% of pedestrian fatalities happen in the dark.
  • 72% of pedestrian fatalities happened when a pedestrian was walking in the road or crossing a road, but not in an intersection.

Are City Planners Able to Protect Florida’s Pedestrians?

Florida’s officials are turning to engineers to help solve this rapidly growing problem. New mapping software used by the Department of Transportation (DOT) marks the problem areas, identifying risk factors such as construction areas, lighting, and land-use patterns to determine the best solution. Florida roadways need to efficiently handle as much traffic as possible. Originally, the focus was on how to get as many cars as possible to their final destination in the safest possible manner. Now the focus is changing towards adding pedestrian safety features like better lighting, crosswalks and pedestrian bridges.

Other roadway modifications include shrinking lane sizes from 12 feet down to 11 feet, and in some more urban spots even down to 10 feet. Roads with narrower lanes have a lower fatality rate because drivers must stay more aware at all times. This is the opposite of the assumption that wider lanes are safer for drivers and pedestrians.

Another strategy engineers are testing is alternating sides of the road with “flip-flop” parking. Parking lots located on the side of the street cause drivers to slow down and pay attention to people walking, and for other cars. Flipping the parking spots from one side of the road to the other keeps the road from being too congested, but also keeps drivers on their toes and driving at slower speeds. Implementation of more of this type of parking could help to increase driver awareness and decrease pedestrian fatalities.

Help for Tomorrow

Unfortunately, the city planners can only help the situation for the future, and, for the short term, Florida pedestrians are still at great risk for injury from a car. In the meantime, Floridians who walk for leisure, exercise, or transport should always look approaching drivers in the face to ensure drivers can see them. Pedestrians should also expect distracted drivers to be common, and be extra aware of this all-too-common problem. If you are involved in a pedestrian accident, you should seek advice from an accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale, they will help you establish if you have a case or give you options to get the compensation you deserve.