Pedestrian Accidents in Florida

Jeffrey R. Davis

According to a March 17, 2021 article in The Miami Herald by Linda Robertson, Florida is the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians. It ranks #1 as the state where a person walking is most likely to be struck and killed by a motor-vehicle according to the “Dangerous by Design” report. This report from the National Non-Profit Smart Growth America and its National Complete Streets Coalition Program has identified Florida as the most dangerous state in the nation for people walking on streets.

This report outlines 9 of the 15 most hazardous U.S. cities for pedestrians are in Florida with Orlando ranked as the most dangerous and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach as number 13 in this study.

Throughout the country, motor-vehicles crashed into and killed 53,435 pedestrians in the United States between 2010 and 2019.  That averages out to 17 people a day being killed while walking on or near streets. This report further states that the number of people killed while walking has been on a rise each year, growing 45% over the decade for which data was accumulated.

In the list of the top 20 most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians during this 9-year period, 9 Florida cities were ranked in the top 20 most dangerous metropolitan areas. This analysis included a pedestrian-danger index and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Florida received a 172 rating.

The report noted that there was a disproportionately high number of fatalities among blacks, American Indian or Alaskan-native people and people walking in low-income communities.  Black people were killed by drivers at a rate 82% higher than white people while people walking in poor neighborhoods were twice as likely to die as people in affluent neighborhoods.

Interestingly, when compared to the fatality rates for pedestrians which is on the rise, traffic fatality rates for motor-vehicles occupants have only increased 3.47% following a decline between 2008 and 2017. The report suggests that the reason for increased pedestrian danger is due to the growing popularity of large SUVs and pick-up trucks which are more likely to kill a pedestrian in a crash than a normal car (National Highway Safety Administration report states that SUVs and pick-up trucks are 2 to 3 more times likely to kill a pedestrian in a crash than a sedan).

Florida saw 5,893 pedestrian deaths in the 10-year span that was examined. The national figures for deaths per 100,000 are 1.6 average annual deaths. In Florida, it’s 2.8 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people annually.  Vermont, the safest state, had a pedestrian danger index of 15.2% compared to Florida’s pedestrian danger index of 201.4%.

In Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 1,675 pedestrians were hit and killed during the period from 2010 to 2019 giving it a PDI of 171.9%.

Florida has wider roads, wider lanes, wider blocks and street engineering that gives priority to higher speeds for cars over safety for pedestrians or bicycle riders according to Steve Davis, Director of Communications for Smart Growth America. According to Mr. Davis, speed is the holy grail – move as many cars through as possible. Avoiding congestion is the goal, not making high-risk corridors safe for all users on the road. According to Steve Davis, he believes that the 2020 data will be even higher due to the lack of congestion and traffic during the pandemic.  “We expect the number of deaths per mile traveled in 2020 will be crazy high”, Davis said. The article goes on to recommend that entities like FDOT and other traffic planning agencies design safer streets with slower traffic. They urge sensible intersections and more sidewalks and bike lanes. Current street design results in artificially high speed limits, and the likelihood of surviving a collision decreases rapidly as speeds increase past 30 mph the report notes. Finally, the report urges congress to pass the Complete Streets Act, which would require state and metro departments of transportation to plan for all people who use the street, including the most vulnerable.

At Davis Law, we represent pedestrians and bicyclists injured in motor-vehicle accidents throughout the state of Florida. In our next blog, we plan to feature a story about a particularly personal and tragic pedestrian fatality case we recently concluded. Florida law regulates motor-vehicle traffic and its interaction with pedestrians and bicycle riders. Knowledge of the application of these “rules of the road” are essential for proper and effective legal representation following a pedestrian vs. motor-vehicle crash. At Davis Law, we have handled thousands of motor-vehicle crash cases since 1986. We practice throughout the state of Florida and are bi-lingual and available on a 24/7 basis. We offer free consultations online, over the phone, virtual or in-person.  If you have been injured in a pedestrian or bicycle accident with a motor-vehicle, please give us the opportunity to evaluate your case.

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