A Palm Beach accident attorney knows pedestrians and bicyclists in South Florida face some of the most dangerous roads in the nation.
The Florida Department of Transportation recently announced a number of new technologies being deployed in Orlando that aim to reduce collisions between bicyclists and pedestrians. The FDOT is also working to manage traffic signals and create smart, pedestrian-friendly communities that leverage public transportation and group-travel options.
Pedestrian Injury in South Florida
Nearly 50,000 pedestrians have been killed in traffic accidents in the last decade. Nationwide, 5,376 pedestrians were killed in 2015 and more than 70,000 were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In Florida, 628 pedestrians were killed that year, more than anywhere else in the nation except California.
Incorporating the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians into road design and community planning is a critical piece of the solution when it comes to improving safety on Florida roads. Those looking for measurable results need look no further than New York City. Once considered the nation's most dangerous place for walkers, NYC has seen a massive drop in fatalities in recent years. In fact, the entire state of New York reported 307 pedestrian deaths in 2015, less than half the number of deaths in Florida even though the two states have very similar populations.
Smart Growth America consistently ranks Florida the most dangerous place in America for pedestrian accidents. In fact, Florida has the top 7 most dangerous metropolitan areas in the nation of the 104 large metro areas reviewed: Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Palm Bay-Melbourne, Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Jacksonville, Deltora-Daytona Beach, Lakeland-Winter Haven, and Tampa-St. Petersburg are the nation's most dangerous. Moreover, North Port-Sarasota placed 10th, and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach was the 11th most dangerous.
Top causes of accidents with pedestrians include failure to yield, improper crossing, poor visibility, alcohol and drug use, distraction, and failure to obey traffic signs and signals.
Florida Statute 316.130 gives pedestrians the right of way in most instances. Motorists who fail to yield can be cited and, more importantly, will increase the risk of causing a serious accident.
Bicycle Injury in South Florida
Bike rentals and the increasing popularity of cycling for fitness continue to increase the risk to riders throughout Florida. In fact, cycling is even more dangerous than walking.
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports nearly 1,000 cyclists are killed each year and more than 45,000 are injured. Florida reported 150 cycling deaths in 2015, more than anywhere else in the nation. Based on population, Florida was more than twice as dangerous as California, where 129 road deaths were reported.
Bicycle accidents in West Palm Beach may involve children, of course. But it's actually middle-aged adults who are most likely to be killed or injured while riding. About 80 percent of victims are male. The result is that these cases often impact a family's primary wage earner. Long recovery periods and astronomical medical bills are common.
The Florida Department of Transportation continues to work to improve safety for riders and walkers alike. A 2012 Vulnerable Road Users study outlined the need for data analysis, driver education, better highway and traffic engineering, communication with law enforcement and emergency agencies and other outreach and education efforts.
But drivers would do well to resolve to take an extra moment to look for these vulnerable road users in 2018, as nothing will change the fact that cyclists and pedestrians stand little chance of escaping serious injury in a collision with a motor vehicle.
You should also keep in mind that the risks don't abate once you leave your vehicle. The walk to where you are going will likely be the most dangerous part of your day. If you've been hurt, an experienced injury attorney can help.