A report recently released by Smart Growth America lists several Florida cities as the most dangerous for pedestrians in the nation. The report, which includes data from 2016 to 2020, lists seven municipal areas in Florida in the top twenty most dangerous: Daytona Beach-Deltona-Ormond Beach, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Jacksonville, Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Palm Bay-Melbourne Titusville, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, and Sarasota-Bradenton-North Port. The state of Florida is listed as the second most deadly state for pedestrians, second only to New Mexico.
Upon reviewing their findings, researchers stated that Florida roads are “dangerous by design”. For example, the number of drivers on the road decreased in 2020, while pedestrian deaths increased by 4.7%. This statistic suggests that the volume of cars on the road is not the problem.
Disparities Among Florida Communities
According to the study, individuals walking in lower-income neighborhoods and older adults were more likely to be struck by a vehicle while walking. Lower-income neighborhoods are less likely to have safe areas for pedestrians, such as sidewalks, marked crosswalks, parks for recreational walking, and streets designed for slower speeds. Major arterial roads that allow for higher speeds and more vehicles are also common in lower-income neighborhoods.
One such road, part of US-19, dissects Hudson, Port Richey, New Port Richey, and Holiday, near the Florida Gulf Coast., Vox reporter Marin Cogan called this stretch of highway “the deadliest road in America” in July 2022. In a study initiated by Robert Schneider, a professor of urban planning at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Schneider and his colleagues found that of the sixty deadliest areas in the United States, seven of them were in Pasco County along US-19.
What makes Florida roads so dangerous for pedestrians?
The deadliest roads in Florida have a few characteristics in common. First, they were not built with pedestrians in mind. Instead, they are often developed to accommodate a large volume of traffic moving at high speeds of forty-five miles per hour or more. These roads often have multiple lanes and many turning points. Some are void of crosswalks for pedestrians, leaving individuals to navigate many lanes of traffic moving at high speeds.
How to Stay Safe While Walking in Florida
The first step in staying safe as a pedestrian in Florida is awareness. Knowing that most roads were built for vehicles and not pedestrians makes an individual more likely to adhere to traffic safety guidelines. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recommends the following:
- When available, pedestrians should walk on sidewalks. If there are no sidewalks, pedestrians should walk facing oncoming traffic and as far from vehicles as possible.
- Pedestrians must remain alert and mindful of their surroundings. For example, pedestrians should avoid wearing headphones and keep their eyes focused on the traffic before them instead of looking down at their phones, especially when crossing a road.
- Pedestrians should always cross streets at crosswalks or intersections while looking for cars in all directions. When crosswalks and intersections are not available, pedestrians should cross in well-lit areas while ensuring there is enough of a gap in traffic for them to cross safely.
- Pedestrians should always walk straight across a street and never diagonally while avoiding entering the street from between parked cars.
- Pedestrians should always be mindful of vehicles entering and exiting driveways and parking lots.
- Wearing reflective clothing or using a flashlight at night allows pedestrians to be better seen by drivers, and could prevent an accident.
Call a Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Due to Florida’s deadly roads, even the most cautious pedestrians can be involved in an accident. If you or a family member has been struck by a vehicle and was injured because of the negligent or reckless actions of another, the pedestrian accident attorneys of Panter, Panter, and Sampedro can help. For over thirty years, our experienced legal team has been helping Florida’s families get the justice, recovery, and compensation they deserve. Call (305) 662-6178 and speak to an attorney today.