According to two non-profit groups from Washington, D.C., Florida is the deadliest state in the country for bicyclists and pedestrians. The most recent statistics available are from 2008 and show that 11% of pedestrians killed in pedestrian accidents and 17.4% of bicyclists killed in bicycle accidents were killed in Florida – even though Florida has only 6% of the country’s total population.
According to statistics, Florida has been in the top three states of the nation for pedestrian accident fatalities and bicycle accident fatalities each year since 2001. As well, of the ten most risky urban areas for pedestrians, the top four all include areas in Florida. Officials from Florida’s Department of Transportation have expressed concern over the statistics this year and have promised to try to find some answers.
The statistics do raise some questions, namely: what makes Florida pedestrian accidents and Florida bicycle accidents so common and so deadly? Researchers agree that three basic causes may be contributing the fatalities and the accident rates:
1) Very rapid population growth. Between 1950 and 2008, Florida’s population skyrocketed from 2.8 million to 18.5 million, an increase of sevenfold. In fact, Florida leads the nation in population growth. The extra population puts a strain on existing infrastructure and also creates far more traffic, which makes the streets and roadways riskier for pedestrians and bicyclists.
2) Climate. Some experts speculate that Florida’s nice weather brings more people outside, which makes them more at risk for traffic-related accidents.
3) Tourists. About 80 million tourists visit Florida in a typical year. Experts agree that tourists – who may not be familiar with streets or may not realize area-specific dangers – may be a contributing factor in some Florida car accidents and traffic accidents.