With drivers turning every which way in popular Florida cities, it can be dangerous to be walking along the streets. Over a 10-year span in Florida, there were 5,433 pedestrian deaths and of those, there were 1,549 pedestrian fatalities due to vehicle accidents in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach area, according to Smart Growth America’s Dangerous by Design feature. These statistics have resulted in updating Florida’s traffic and pedestrian safety.
One reason of the most common reasons for pedestrian accidents is a failure by drivers to heed to traffic signals. For example, drivers must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and yield at intersections with yellow flashing lights. However, many drivers have been known to ignore these warning signs. Because of this, a new bill, Florida’s Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Bill, or House Bill 1371, has been introduced with the hopes of going into effect in July 2020.
What is House Bill 1371?
In December 2019, a 12-year-old girl was struck by a moving vehicle in Tampa, FL while crossing a street using a flashing crosswalk. Many residents of Tampa have claimed that while they cross when they are supposed to, drivers ignore the crosswalks’ yellow lights and continue to drive. After hearing about the passing of the little girl that was struck at the crosswalk, Tampa Representative, Randy Fine, filed House Bill 1371, which is also being called the Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Act.
The bill requires pedestrian crosswalks on public highways, streets, or roads that are located at any point other than an intersection to be controlled by traffic signal devices. It also states that these pedestrian control signals must meet specified requirements. This means that crosswalks will swap out the flashing yellow lights with red lights to help signal that vehicles should come to a stop.
On January 28, 2020, the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee approved House Bill 1371. This act will become effective on July 1, 2020, with hopes of all yellow flashing lights to be replaced by red lights.
Traffic and Pedestrian Safety
When it comes to crosswalk safety, it is important to follow all crosswalk signals before crossing the street. However, when walking in public it is always important to be aware of your surroundings and be cautious of any moving vehicles near you.
Here are more pedestrian safety tips provided by Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to ensure you and your loved ones are safe wherever you are headed:
- Always walk on the sidewalk if there is one. If there is no sidewalk, walk against the direction of traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles.
- Pay attention. Avoid wearing headphones so you can hear traffic and never look down at your phone when crossing.
- Never enter the street from between parked cars. If crossing mid-block cannot be avoided, always yield to cars as they have the right of way.
- Be seen. Wear bright colors to be seen by oncoming vehicles. If walking at night, wear reflective clothing or carry a flashlight.
- Always follow pedestrian signs and signals. Pedestrians should yield right of way to vehicles if the crosswalk signal is red or if the stop signal is displayed.
We all know that accidents can happen at any moment. It only takes a second for a mistake to result in a tragedy. Whether you are traveling as a pedestrian, a cyclist, a motorist, or by any other mode of transportation, be aware of your surroundings and pay full attention. Review safety tips often to keep them top-of-mind and share them with your loved ones.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a pedestrian accident, it is important to seek medical attention right away. We also encourage you to contact a personal injury attorney as you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call Panter, Panter & Sampedro for a free consultation today at (305) 662-6178.
Red lights instead of flashing yellows make sense for crosswalks (January 17, 2020) Retrieved January 21, 2020 from https://tampabay.com/opinion/2020/01/17/red-lights-instead-of-flashing-yellows-make-sense-for-crosswalks-editorial/
HB 1371: Traffic and Pedestrian Safety (n.d) Retrieved January 21, 2020, from https://flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/1371