The good news is that after much effort to make it safer for pedestrians in Florida, the number of injuries and fatalities are going down. The bad news is that for years, they climbed so high, the numbers are still far too high.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation, in 2010, there were 499 pedestrian traffic accidents that resulted in deaths, 2,072 nonfatal hospitalizations and 7,650 nonfatal emergency room visits.
These are just a few examples of pedestrian accidents we've seen in the last few years.
- A man in Tampa was killed early one morning after being struck by a pickup truck while crossing the street.
- A 68-year-old Fort Meyers man was killed in an intersection when he was struck by a car (as of the writing of this article, the driver of that vehicle had still not been identified).
- Also in Fort Meyers, a 36-year-old woman died after being struck by a driver while she attempted to cross the street.
- In Bradenton, an driver having difficulty maneuvering a sport utility vehicle backed into a group of people in a parking lot. Three were killed and four others were injured.
- In Fort Walton Beach, a 32-year-old man was killed in another hit-and-run as he crossed the street.
- A teen skateboarder was struck and killed in Miami Beach by a pickup truck (also a hit-and-run).
- An 86-year-old woman in Naples was killed when a 92-year-old driver backed into her as he left his house.
- A 4-year old was walking on the sidewalk with his mother and baby brother in Sunrise when a driver (trying to avoid another vehicle) lost control and hit them all. The mother was in critical condition and the infant was stabilized.
- Two men in their early 20s were hit while crossing the street. One was killed instantly and the other sustained life-threatening injuries that required transportation to the hospital by helicopter.
Car accidents aren't always the fault of the driver and some accidents are so unexpected no one could have foreseen them, but you can take a proactive approach to keep yourself safer while walking.
- If at all possible, don't walk behind running vehicles in parking lots or when walking in residential neighborhoods. Drivers can't see as well when backing up, so give them the right of way.
- Speaking of right of way, it's something that's given, not taken. Even if you should have the right of way, pay attention and make sure the driver is yielding before crossing in front of them.
- Look both ways before crossing the street. You've told your kids that a thousand times, but you'd be surprised how often adults forget that advice themselves.
- Whenever possible, cross only at designated crosswalks. And if the crosswalk has a walk/don't walk light, don't walk when it tells you not to. Also, just because it says walk doesn't mean you don't have to pay attention. Drivers get distracted and sometimes a driver may turn the corner there not realizing you have a light.
- When there is no crosswalk, don't cross from behind a parked vehicle or other obstacles that may make it seem to drivers as though you just "appeared."
- Always keep your eyes and ears open. Walking with headphones is dangerous, as is walking while paying attention to your phone. Just as a driver should pull over to text, you should stop and move to a safe place before texting.
- Walk on the sidewalk when possible, but where none is available, walk toward incoming traffic so you can see what's coming toward you.
- If you're walking with children, make sure they hold your hand and keep them on the side of the sidewalk furthest from traffic if possible. This will reduce accidents that happen when children run suddenly into the street or simply aren't seen by drivers because of their size.
- At night, carry a flashlight and wear light-colored reflective clothing.
Remember, not only are you the one who's in the most danger in one of these accidents, but drivers may also have limited ability to see or predict pedestrian behavior.
The reality is, Florida is still one of the most dangerous states for those on foot. As lawyers, we may have no control over how the government makes it safer for those who travel on foot, but we can be there when you need to make sure a negligent driver is held accountable for his or her actions. If you, or someone you love,has been injured or someone has been killed in a pedestrian-vehicle accident, call the Orlando pedestrian accident lawyers of Draper Law Office at 866.767.4711 on contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation.