Pedestrians, Safety & The Law

Our Panama City pedestrian accident law firm believes in keeping the roads safe for those who walk, whether for transportation or as a form of exercise. As noted by Walkinginfo.org, a resource funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, there are numerous benefits to travelling on foot. Walking protects the health of the environment as well as individuals, can improve quality of life, reduces traffic congestion, and results in economic benefits to both the individual and the community.

Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association ("NHTSA"), 4,280 pedestrians died due to collisions with motor vehicles in 2010. While the number of fatalities dropped from 5,858 in 1995, it still means 12 pedestrians died on an average day across the country. Nearly 75% of fatal pedestrian accidents occurred in urban areas. The NHTSA reported 70,000 pedestrian injuries in 2010, although hospital research indicates this number is well-below the actual number of injuries since people report only a fraction of injury-causing pedestrian crashes to the police.

Following some basic safety tips can help prevent pedestrian accidents:

  • Drivers should remain alert and watch for pedestrians, especially children, at all times. This includes avoiding the use of distracting mobile devices.
  • Drivers should yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and when making turns.
  • Drivers should avoid aggressive behaviors and always be prepared to stop for pedestrians.
  • Pedestrians should make an effort to be visible to drivers, taking particular caution at night.
  • Pedestrians should look before crossing the road and should not rely only on traffic signals or assume a car will stop (even if required by law).
  • Pedestrians should remember that distracted walking can be dangerous. This means not using headphones that block traffic noise and not focusing on mobile devices to the exclusion of surrounding conditions.

As a general matter, Florida law requires drivers to "exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian" (Florida Statutes Section 316.130(15)). Beyond following the posted speed limit, drivers must not exceed speeds that are "reasonable and prudent" for existing conditions, including exercising caution when any special hazard exists that could pose a danger to pedestrians (Florida Statutes Sections 316.183, 316.185). Simply obeying a posted speed limit does not mean a driver is in compliance with these provisions. Florida law also imposes duties on pedestrians, primarily via Florida Statutes Sections 316.130. Pedestrians must make use of sidewalks when available and should otherwise walk on the left shoulder, facing traffic, if practicable.

Another Disturbing Statistic

Florida joins California, Texas and New York as one of the four states with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities. Together, these 4 states account for a whopping 41% of all pedestrian fatalities nationwide. While we are proud Florida citizens and members of the Panama City region, we are certainly not happy with this distinction. Decreasing the number of pedestrian accidents will require a joint effort on behalf of both state and local authorities.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian crash, please call our Panama City accident lawyer. We are available 24/7 to take your call.

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