Between 2008 and 2017, there were over 49,000 pedestrian fatalities – approximately one person per hour – in the United States. Tragically, Florida residents represent more than 10% (5,433 people) of this statistic, making Florida the most dangerous state for pedestrians in the country.
In January 2019, Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition published a report, Dangerous by Design 2019, that ranks states and specific metropolitan areas by how unsafe it is “for people to walk based on the number of people struck and killed by drivers while walking, controlling for the number of people that live in that state or metro area and the share of people who walk to work.” According to this study, pedestrian deaths have been steadily increasing by 35.4% since 2009, even though people aren’t walking or driving more – in fact, traffic fatalities involving motor vehicles have reportedly decreased by 6.1%.
Unfortunately, this is a twofold problem.
We are living in an era defined by significant technology advancements, including mobile application technology, were the only conceivable and profitable solution seems to be more technology. Carmakers and tech companies around the world are developing new safety features that protect drivers by compensating for their moments of distraction and recklessness. For example, advanced driver-assistance technology can automatically bring a vehicle to a stop if a collision is imminent. You’ll also be hard-pressed to find a 2019 vehicle that doesn’t include a lane-departure system.
While these are amazing advancements, and likely the foundation for autonomous vehicle technology, they don’t encourage a driver to pay more attention to the road. If anything, drivers expect their vehicles to counteract their mistakes. There is also another issue: to sell these expensive vehicles, manufacturers are incorporating smartphone features that contribute to driver distraction, including the ability to stream music, watch movies, and make hands-free calls while operating a vehicle.
The few seconds your attention isn’t 100% focused on the road is referred to as “inattention blindness.” According to the National Safety Council, this is like “driving blindfolded. If you are traveling at 40 mph, you will cover the length of six football fields during that time, or about five city blocks. You could easily miss a stop sign, pedestrian or another vehicle in your path.”
The Dangerous by Design 2019 report includes an infographic that lists the top 10 most dangerous metropolitan areas in the United States. Eight Florida cities are included in this list, with North Port, Orlando, Daytona, and Lakeland climbing the chart. As the report explains, states like Florida “continue to design streets that are dangerous for all people, not just because we keep repeating the same mistakes, but because our federal policies, standards, and funding mechanisms that have been in place for decades produce dangerous roads that prioritize high speeds for cars over safety for all people.”
Florida is a world-renowned tourist destination that sees over 111.8 million domestic visitors and 10.8 million international travelers a year. Urban planners and civil engineers are constantly restructuring our most popular cities and roadways to cater to these tourists and Florida’s 21.3 million residents. However, because these developments prioritize the needs and interests of motorists, our streets often lack the basic elements of a safe pedestrian network.
Complete Streets are designed to facilitate safe travel for all people, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and transit riders. The challenge of implementing a Complete Streets plan is that there isn’t a uniform design prescription that works for every city. Policymakers need to work with designers to craft unique plans that reflect the needs of their respective communities.
For example, a Complete Streets plan can include:
Although Florida adopted a Complete Streets policy in 1984, enforcing parties failed to encourage changes that could protect the lives of pedestrians. Now, 35 years later, individual cities are taking charge.
Last May, the St. Petersburg, FL City Council approved a Complete Streets Implementation Plan based on the Dangerous by Design 2019 report and guidelines provided by the National Complete Streets Coalition. This plan outlines how the city’s streets will be designed and modified over the next 20 years. Policymakers hope this plan will make St. Petersburg’s streets safer and more accessible for cyclists, motorists, and, of course, pedestrians. Other cities are keeping an eye on this development and will hopefully be implementing their own plans in the future.
At The Pittman Firm, P.A., we fully support the implementation of Complete Streets in our Florida cities. However, we also recognize that this initiative is an ongoing work in progress. To help you safely navigate the cities and neighborhoods of our great state, our pedestrian accident attorneys have compiled the following list of safety tips:
A serious accident injury can impact all aspects of your life and decimate your finances. Contact The Pittman Firm, P.A. if you or a loved one has been harmed by a distracted or negligent driver. Our experienced legal team is renowned for helping clients recover multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts. By taking legal action today, you can pursue compensatory damages that provide for your medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, and more.
Contact The Pittman Firm, P.A.at (850) 764-0383 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.