The State of Florida is appealing for many reasons: no snow or state income tax, plenty of beautiful beaches, Disney World, and at least one decent football team at any given time. As great as Florida, is, however, it does hold an unfortunate designation: it ranks as the fifth-most dangerous state for pedestrians, according to a recent study by 24/7 Wall St, a USA Today content partner. This source determined its rankings by reviewing traffic-related fatality rates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, commuting data and poverty figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to 24/7 Wall St, Florida has 2.46 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people and, as such, ranks the third-highest state in the country for pedestrian deaths. This high rate may be attributed, at least in part, to the state’s sizeable elderly population. Florida’s elders account for 18.2% of the state’s total residents—the highest proportion in the country. One recent study found that residents over 65 comprise a large portion of pedestrian deaths. However, the good news is that pedestrian deaths did fall 4.6% from 2011 to 2012, which occurred in only one other state in the Top 10 list. This may be due to Florida funding extension education and infrastructure projects to make pedestrians safer on a daily basis, according to USA Today.
While inadequate infrastructure and Florida’s high elderly population may play a large role in its pedestrian death rating, ultimately, both pedestrian and driver choices may play an even bigger part. Texting while driving and increased distracted driving may be one of the biggest factors affecting pedestrian fatalities. Also, longer commutes for both drivers and pedestrians can increase the amount of pedestrian deaths. Of course, driving while under the influence of alcohol is still also a large contributor.
In fact, just this past October 26, a pedestrian was killed in St. Petersburg by a 26-year-old driver who police allege was driving under the influence. Pursuant to a St. Petersburg Police Department report, one Brandon Russell Charles Parker was traveling at a high rate of speed in the center lane of 34th Street North around 9:00 p.m. when he struck a 24-year-old woman who was attempting to cross the roadway. Mr. Parker continued driving and eventually abandoned his vehicle; however, police were ultimately able to apprehend and arrest him.
How can drivers avoid pedestrian fatalities? First, do not speed. Speeding obviously hinders slowing for unexpected obstacles. Secondly, exercise extreme caution when driving on roads that contain potholes, construction, or other compromising infrastructure challenges that may cause your vehicle to turn or move unexpectedly. Third—and this is a very important one—do not practice distracted driving. Texting or using social media while driving is nothing more than a recipe for disaster. To that end, pay close attention to your surroundings and watch out for pedestrians. Finally, of course, do not drink and drive.
As a pedestrian, avoid crossing busy highways at night or in bad weather. Always use crosswalks whenever possible. Never assume that a car will slow down for you or that a car sees you. As much as possible, only cross roads when cars are not near you. Look up from your mobile devices and pay very close attention to your surroundings when crossing or walking on busy roads.
If you suffer the unthinkable and one of your loved ones is killed as a pedestrian, please call Brooks Law Group today. Our attorneys can help determine if you are entitled to any compensation as a result of this painful and horrific event.